The Windhoek beer ad banned for promoting ‘toxic masculinity’. Picture: Screenshot
The Windhoek beer ad banned for promoting ‘toxic masculinity’. Picture: Screenshot

Windhoek beer ad banned for promoting ‘toxic masculinity’

By Lutho Pasiya Time of article published Jan 26, 2021

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The South African Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has banned an ad from Windhoek beer for promoting toxic masculinity, as it suggests that only “real men” drink beer.

The ad was released early last year and features Scottish actor and film producer Gerard Butler.

In a video posted on Instagram by Windhoek beer South Africa, the television commercial opens in a bar, which initially feels more like a traditional beer television commercial, but everything is stopped in its tracks when a friend (Joe) asks the waiter for a piece of lime to add to his beer.

The tense silence among the friends combined with an eloquently delivered line by Butler lands the message most endearingly and engagingly.

In a press release issued when the advertisement originally launched in February 2020, Senior Brand Manager for Windhoek Lager, Maggie Wang had said “Windhoek champions those who stay true to themselves, those who show up, in their most authentic self, those who know what’s important, and those who keep it real”.

That they found these qualities in Gerard Butler, and they were thrilled that he felt an immediate synergy with what their brand stands for.

Butler also commented, saying he loved the [Windhoek] script, and that he found it very funny, and the humour was right up his alley.

But the ARB has recently banned the advertisement.

According to the ARB, the advert, in which they describe Butler as “a macho-looking movie star”, makes a character asking for lime a target for teasing in a toxic environment.

The interaction between Butler and the character, the ARB ruled, sends an unavoidable message that is not acceptable in advertising, especially because it does not actually come out and say that real men drink real beer.

“The reality is that it is exactly the unspoken nature of the communication that makes it particularly dangerous – the gender stereotype portrayed as so normal that it does not even require explanation,” said the ARB, who took issue with both “the entrenchment of the role of men as having to behave in a certain way” and “the entrenchment of male behaviour that is bullying, and what has come to be labelled as ‘toxic masculinity’.”

In a recent statement by Windhoek brand representatives, they said they have noted the ruling applied by the Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) in regard to a Windhoek Lager television advertisement.

“The brand is disappointed by this ruling but will evaluate all arguments made therein and carefully consider the points raised.

“The advert concerned, a modified version of an advertisement that has been on television screens since early 2020, aimed to showcase that Windhoek (a 100% pure beer with only three ingredients), does not need any added flavouring eg. a slice of lime.

“The brand did not intend to offend any viewers with the contents of the advertisement.

“As the decision was only received on Wednesday, the brand is still considering the implications thereof before making further comments. The brand however is adhering to the requirement to cease fighting of the advert.”

Below is the ad.

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