Beer ad starring Kiwi celebs attracts official complaint

A marketing campaign backed by brewing giants Lion and DB and featuring Olympic rower Eric Murray has attracted an official complaint from an alcohol harm prevention group.

Alcohol Healthwatch has laid a complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority over the "Beer The Beautiful Truth" campaign, which was last month rolled out by the Brewers Association - whose members include Lion and DB.

The campaign includes a series of videos featuring well-known Kiwis such as Olympic gold medallist Eric Murray, musician Hollie Smith, and actors Robbie Magasiva and Antonia Prebble.

In Murray's part of the ad, he speaks about enjoying a beer after the birth of his daughter. Smith talks about drinking beer after playing hockey.

Alcohol Healthwatch has laid the complaint under principle 3, a guideline of the Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol, which states "alcohol advertising and promotions in non-restricted areas shall not use or refer to identifiable heroes or heroines of the young".

The videos are part of a wider campaign that has included DB and Lion adding nutritional tables to their products, and including labels touting their beer as "99 percent sugar-free".

When the videos launched, New Zealand Brewers Association executive director Dylan Firth told Newshub the campaign was about educating Kiwis about the nutritional content of beer.

"I wouldn't say that beer's a health food and we're not trying to educate people into that," Mr Firth said. "We're just trying to give them the information."

Alcohol Healthwatch at the time criticised the campaign as not telling the whole truth.

"Calling this campaign 'The Beautiful Truth' is an absolute disservice to the individuals, children and families, who continue to suffer the very many ugly truths from alcohol consumption in our country," said executive director Dr Nicki Jackson.

Dr Jackson also slammed the "99 percent sugar-free" labels.

"I challenge the alcohol industry that if sugar is the big problem - what about putting labels around cancer, around bowel cancer?" he asked.

The New Zealand Brewers Association has been approached for comment.