Heineken takes a strong lead on Most Dishonest Advert of 2016 with ‘Moderate Drinkers Wanted’

I haven’t done Worst Adverts of the Year for a while now, but I’m considering resurrecting it for 2016, given Heineken’s early lead in the coveted ‘Most Dishonest Advert’ category.

The ad shows a sequence of women on a night out, singing a montage of Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero, as they contemptuously ignore the drunk men stumbling and snoozing around them. It ends with a female bartender being impressed by a man who leaves the bar after having only one drink, which leads to the tagline, “Moderate Drinkers Wanted”:

The advert is so breathtakingly disingenuous, it takes a few seconds after seeing it to start to process what might be going on here. Obviously, they can’t be telling their customers, “we want you to buy less of our product.” They must know that, as studies prove, the majority of their revenues come from dangerous and harmful levels of binge-drinking.

Do they think that by pretending their beer is only for more discerning (and therefore attractive) moderate-drinking men, they’ll raise its status and men will stupidly drink more of it? No, I don’t think that’s Heineken’s tactic here.

To understand the advert, you have to realise that it’s not aimed at potential Heineken customers at all. It’s primarily aimed at regulators. It’s part of a big lobbying campaign, attempting to prove to governments that the alcohol industry is a responsible self-regulator, that it doesn’t want its customers to over-use its products and is taking steps to stop them.

The campaign, of course, is paid for with the profits Heineken makes as it fuels a public health catastrophe, the costs of which are socialised to the rest of us. And the reason the industry wants self-regulation is so they can avoid minimum unit pricing, and continue to sell 15p/unit cider to its biggest customers: alcoholics drinking themselves to death.

Worst Adverts of the Year 2010

(Originally published on 11th January, 2011)

I didn’t watch much television in 2010, so I didn’t get to see many dreadful, hateworthy adverts. Good news for me, bad news for Worst Adverts of 2010. This year’s list is therefore much less extensive than last year’s. In fact, it’s just a handful of ads I happened to catch which annoyed me for various reasons. I’m sure there were much worse, which you’ll have seen and hated yourself, but here are mine.

At the start of the year, Renault managed to combine both a sneakily misleading claim, and a ridiculous bare-faced lie, in one advert. The former: launching a TV campaign on 1/1/10 which boasted that they would have zero emission cars “next year”. The latter: the claim that Renault has “been there for every revolution in society.” Really? Didn’t notice them at Wat Tyler’s Peasants’ Revolt of 1381.

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Worst Adverts of the Year 2009

(Originally published on 29th January, 2010)

A Hate List spin-off, which I’d vaguely been thinking about doing for about 15 years before finally getting around to it. Presented in the lazy, tired format of an annual awards presentation.

The “I Want To Punch You, Not Buy Your Product” Award

Runner Up: Pringles

“Oh wow! They’re in a bag. I wasn’t expecting the bag.” Presumably because you’re a total cunt in a Pringles advert. Actually, I suspect the end of this vox pops was cut in editing: “I wasn’t expecting the bag… But I was expecting some foul, salty papier-mâché discs, and those expectations have been met.”

Winner: Envirofone

One of the worst vox pops adverts of all time. Every single person who appears in this heinous clip makes you want to kick them in the nuts or fanny as appropriate. There’s a lot more that’s wrong with this whole concept, such as the fact that the company name infers it’s a primarily environmental project, but the ad shoehorns in the issue of the environment right at the very end as an afterthought, after spending 95% of it telling you how much “WONGA!!!” and “READIES!!!” you could get. (Note to admen: try speaking to some real people. Seriously.) But mainly it’s a neck-and-neck competition to see who can annoy you the most in just a few words ham-acted to camera. For me, the “WONGA!!!” guy narrowly loses out to the chap who apparently has an orgasm at the idea of “ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY POUNDS!!!”

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