This Offensive Beer Ad Was Pulled from TV for Insulting Redheads

Wait, this is actually really messed up.

Ready to say, “Wait, what?” An Australian beer company has come under fire for releasing a beer commercial that suggests red hair is a disease that needs to be eradicated. Yup.

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Last month, Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) released a commercial for its new Rusty Yak Gingery Ale, in which a narrator talks about the discovery of a “ginger” gene, saying it was “floating around in our beer, just like it's been floating around in human DNA, surprising families for generations.” After showing various redheads, the ad asks people to help “stop the spread of the gene” by looking for specially marked bottles in their new six packs of beer for a chance to win money.

Though the misguided ad was intended as a joke, consumers quickly filed complaints against CUB for the commercial’s insulting undertones, with one petition labeling the ad “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," read one complaint to the Advertising Standards board, as reported by Mumbrella (opens in new tab), adding that "children already get bullied at school for having red hair, and advertisements like this only further encourage that type of bullying."

According to Yahoo, CUB defended their ad, saying, “The advertisements do not promote discrimination or vilification as defined above in a literal or figurative way given the theme and overall impression of the advertisements is not negative towards reds heads [sic], but rather a humorous and comical announcement that we have discovered ‘the ginger gene’ in our beer."

Unfortunately for CUB, Advertising Standards disagreed, ruling the “stop the spread of the gene” phrase to be racist and offensive, and that the ad be removed. Though CUB did pull the commercial, it’s still viewable on YouTube, which means you can make your own informed opinion and fight about it on social media. My take? Never side with discrimination.

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Chloe Metzger
Chloe Metzger

Chloe Metzger is the deputy beauty director at Cosmopolitan, overseeing the editorial content and growth strategy of the hair, makeup, and skin space on digital, while also obsessively writing about the best hair products for every hair type (curly girl here; whattup), and the skincare routines that really, truly work (follow her on Instagram to see behind-the-scenes pics of that magazine life). She brings nearly a decade of writing and editing expertise, and her work has appeared in AllureHealthFitnessMarie ClaireStyleCaster, and Parents. She also has an unhealthy adoration for Tom Hanks and would like to please meet him one day, if you could arrange that. Thanks.