An Australian ad for a new ginger ale craft beer was pulled after the country’s Ad Standards ruled that it was “discriminating” and “vilifying” people with red hair, Australian news site Mumbrella reports.
In the ad for Carlton and United Breweries’ Rusty Yak Gingery Ale, which launched earlier this year, several redheads are shown while a voice-over says the brewery has identified the “ginger gene” and commands its audience to help “stop the spread of the gene.”
Since its launch, the ad has received many complaints about its subject matter. One angry viewer started a petition on the site Change.org that called the commercial a “direct attack on all redheads and their families.”
“It’s very offensive for the advertisement to be discriminating against those with red hair, suggesting that they need to ‘stop the gene spreading’ as if it were some sort of disease. Children already get bullied at school for having red hair, and advertisements like this only further encourage that type of bullying,” one complaint said, Mumbrella reported.
According to the Ad Standards report, other consumers said the ad was “offensive, racist, and encourage[ed] bullying.”
The media watchdog agreed and ruled that the commercial must be taken down.
“The phrase ‘stop the spread of the gene’ overstepped the line between being light-hearted humor and made a strong suggestion that an identifiable group of the population was to be considered unpopular. The majority of the panel considered the suggestion that the genetic trait needed to be stopped was a negative one, and considered that the most reasonable interpretation of this line was that having red hair was undesirable. The majority of the panel considered that the inclusion of this line in the advertisement was vilifying of people with red hair as it was likely to incite ridicule of people with red hair,” the report read.
CUB defended the ad as “affectionate, light-hearted and humorous,” Yahoo Lifestyle reported. The brewery also noted the “ginger gene” was a reference to its beer, not people with red hair.
However, despite disagreeing with the ruling, CUB agreed to remove the advertisement.