(click on this image for a larger version)
This astonishingly evil advertisment appeared on the back page of the Evening Standard newspaper, underneath the Quick Crossword and Sudoku puzzles on Thursday 15tth December 2005.
At the bottom left is the www.sheperdneame.co.uk website URL. On the right is a graphic of a beer pump with a Spitfire badge. All well and good so far.
Just to left of the beer pump badge is the slogan "A bottle of Britain", an obvious pun on the the "Battle of Britain" and "Spitfire" references which have been a theme in the advertising of this beer for several years, in a spurious attempt to cash in on the heroism of others.
However, in the middle of the advert, presumably to tie in with the crossword puzzle direcly above is a fake "crossword clue":
"_ _ SS"
"German lager (4)
Incredibly, the "SS" is not even in roman characters, but uses the double lighting bolt symbol of the Nazi SS - the Schutz Staffel, who were Hitler's bodyguards and who went on to run the Nazi extermination camps and commit other warcrimes and genocide !
This is utterly unnacceptable as an advert -
- The use of unambiguously Nazi genocide symbols to advertise a mediocre British beer, is insulting to the victims of the SS and to present day Germans.
Shepherd Neame, their advertising agency and the Evening Standard are to blame for this disgrace, and they should all apologise in public.
Ideally they should donate some money towards a Holocaust education charity, and send the "creatives" and management responsible on a Holocaust awareness training course.
- It casts an unwarranted aspersion on German lager, which, despite Shepherd Neame's claims is regulated by the Reinheitsgebot German Beer Purity Law of 1516 i.e. hops, malt, yeast and water and nothing else.
Even if Nazi SS symbols had not been used, and a normal double S had been used instead, the distasteful implication is still that "German lager" equates to PISS i.e. urine.
- It belittles the memory of the Battle of Britain pilots, aircrew and Spitfire aeroplane manufacturing workers - what has a 21st century beer (which only has a "history" back to 1990) got to do with them anyway ?
The Advertising Standards Agency must issue some advice to the UK Advertising industry and to the media, that , with the World Cup finals to be played in Germany next year, this sort of Nazi Germany / Genocide advertising is utterly wrong.
The ASA's record on censuring previous Shepherd Neame adverts using the word "nazi" is abysmal., According to their 2003 annual report (.pdf), despite 98 complaints, they did not even bother to investigate.
There should be some humour about World War 2, but this advert is not funny.
Given the current row involving the Evening Standard and Ken Livingstone over his "concentration camp guard" (i.e. the Nazi SS) insults against one of their Jewish reporters, one would have expected the Evening Standard newspaper to have exercised some common sense and to have rejected this stupid and evil advert.