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POLL: Should celebrities be allowed to advertise alcohol?

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The advertising watchdog has cleared the campaign for David Beckham's new whisky following complaints that it was irresponsible for using a celebrity so popular among those too young to drink.

The television ad and online video for Haig Club whisky was directed by filmmaker Guy Ritchie and features Beckham riding a motorcycle through the Scottish Highlands to meet a group of friends.

He is shown pouring a drink for them before posing for photographs, and the background then changes to show different countries and settings before returning to the original image.

The charity Alcohol Concern complained that Beckham had strong appeal among under-18s and the ad was therefore irresponsible for using him to promote alcohol and implying that drinking was a key component of social success or acceptance.

Diageo, which developed the Haig Club brand with Beckham and entrepreneur Simon Fuller, said Beckham's prominent role in the ad reflected this partnership.

The company said the Scotch whisky category appealed primarily to those aged over 25, and they chose to partner with Beckham because he was a global icon that had strong appeal to the target consumer group of males aged between 25 and 40.

They said Beckham was primarily known for his role as a former professional footballer and he had limited resonance with young people in the UK, particularly in comparison with current players and other cultural youth icons.

Ad clearance agency Clearcast said it had considered the potential for concern, noting his Sainsbury's Active Kids and Unicef work, and provided Diageo's explanation that both campaigns were primarily aimed at adults.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said that as a recently-retired footballer, Beckham would be likely to hold general appeal for some children.

But it said: "Nonetheless, we noted that he had not played for a UK club in the last decade and was therefore unlikely to have particular resonance for children on the basis of his sporting career alone, or have strong appeal on that basis."

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