Windhoek Ad banned For Suggesting Toxic Masculinity

South Africa’s Advertising Regulatory Board (ARB) has banned an advertisement for Windhoek beer claiming it entrenches toxic masculinity in suggesting that “real men drink real beer”.

The ad features Gerard Butler, described as “a macho looking movie star”, remonstrating with a bar patron who asks for a slice of lime with his Windhoek. The man he takes to task, says the ARB, “is a gentle-looking, red-headed man—two characteristics that might typically make him a target for teasing in a toxic environment”.

The interaction between the two sends an unavoidable message that is not acceptable in advertising, ruled the regulator, 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.

It 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’.”

The decision cites a clause in the ARB’s code of advertising practice that bans “gender stereotyping or negative gender portrayal” unless it is “reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society based on human dignity, equality and freedom”.

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”.

The advertisement below is a minor update of a spot nearly a year old.

… and see the original version on which it was based, here:

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