Windhoek lager ad banned for promoting toxic masculinity

Gerard Butler caught up in a “toxic masculinity” row after South African beer ad starring tee-total star is banned for gender stereotyping.




The hero of two decades is caught up in a gender stereotyping row, leading to the ban of alcohol in South Africa.

The South African Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) ruled that the interaction between the two bar tenders sends a message that is “unavoidable and unacceptable” in advertising.

The Paisley-born actor, famous for his lead roles in films such as Olympus Has Fallen and Machine Gun Preacher, fell foul of advertising standards with his TV ad for Diageo-made Windhoek beer.



They banned the commercial for suggesting real men, like 51-year old Butler, drink real beer.

Butler agreed to take part in the ad despite having his well-publicised battle with the booze. He went tee-total after a spell in rehab, checking into the Betty Ford clinic in 2012.

The ad which is popular on screens, features Hollywood actor Gerard Butler, “a macho movie star” as described by the regulator remonstrating a fellow bar tender who asks for a slice of lime with his Windhoek.



Hey, that’s a Windhoek. It’s 100% beer. You don’t need any lime,’ Butler tells the other customer, before turning to the camera and says, ‘Keep it real, Joe. Keep it real.

The man he takes to task, says the ARB, ‘is a gentle looking, red-headed man, two characteristics that can typically make him a target for teasing in a toxic environment’.

By showing a man deciding against having a lime with his beer, Windhoek is entrenching toxic masculinity, the regulator ruled.

The interaction between the two, the regulator 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.



TimesLive reported that Aadila Agjee lodged a complaint against Heineken South Africa, the brewers of Windhoek Lager, protesting that the commercial is offensive in that “It belittles a man for requesting a lime slice with his beer.”

Gender stereotyping or negative gender portrayal must not be permitted in advertising, unless in the opinion of the ARB, such stereotyping or portrayal is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom,” the ARB said.

Heineken, the brewers of Windhoek, had argued its central character had ordered a lime out of habit, ‘and when he tasted the Windhoek Lager without the lime, his response was one of appreciation. He does not react with offence or shame’.



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