Premier Estates Wine ad

Controversial Premier Estates Wine ad campaign Taste The Bush has been ruled ‘sexist and degrading to women’ by advertising watchdogs.

The ad cannot be shown again in its current form after the Advertising Standards Authority upheld complaints that it was offensive and in breach of the Advertising Code’s rule against linking alcohol with sexual activity.

The digital ad, created by London agency Saatchi Masius and launched in August, featured an elegantly dressed woman at a party extolling the qualities of Premier Estates’ shiraz. Her spiel ended with the phrase “Australia practically jumps out of the glass - in fact, some say you can almost taste the bush” - at which point, her half-full glass of wine is placed directly in front of her crotch.

The ASA received five complaints, including from industry body Wine Australia, suggesting the advert was offensive because it was sexist and degrading to women.

In its response, Premier Estates Wine owner Budge Brands said that while the humour might not be to everyone’s taste, the woman was in charge and owned the joke. It added it had been careful to ensure the wording also worked as a straight monologue.

But the ASA disagreed, commenting: “While the woman was immediately aware of the double entendre and seemingly only mildly embarrassed as a result, we considered it served to undermine her as, until that point, she had been portrayed as confident and in control while discussing the merits of the wine, in what appeared to be a relaxed and informal party atmosphere.

“For that reason, we considered that the ad presented the woman in a degrading manner, and concluded that it was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.”

There were also three complaints, including from Alcohol Concern, that the ad linked alcohol with sexual activity. Budge Brands said there was “no suggestion of, nor link with ‘seduction, sexual activity or sexual success’, simply a double entendre on the vocabulary often heard around the tasting of wines.”

However the ASA said that since it referenced oral sex and featured an alcoholic product, it was in breach of the Code.

Responding to the decision, owner and MD Budge Dhariwal said: “Premier Estates Wine is an independent British brand selling wines from around the world exclusively through the independent trade and online. The campaign highlights the playful, tongue-in-cheek tone that’s born from classic British humour.

“The vast majority of the adult, wine-drinking target audience has responded in the spirit in which it was intended. Positive feedback has far outweighed the negative comments and many people have positively engaged with the brand.”