Budweiser reprimanded over Conor McGregor commercials

Advertising authority deems use of UFC star’s image contravenes standards code

Budweiser has been reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI) over its use of an image of sports star Conor McGregor in an advertising campaign for a competition.

The campaign in question was rolled out earlier this year, and featured the UFC star walking through Dublin on a TV advertisement and on billboards as part of the Dream Big promotion, which offered entrants the chance to win a travel package worth €50,000.

In its decision, the authority said UFC star McGregor is viewed as a hero of the young and therefore the advertisements by Budweiser, which is part of the Diageo group, contravened aspects of the code of standards for advertising and marketing.

The television commercial was previously the subject of controversy after RTÉ refused to run it due to the belief that minors may be influenced by the use of McGregor's image in association with a popular drinks brand.

The ASAI has asked Budweiser not to run the ads again in the same format.

Role model

The decision was made following complaints from two members of the public that someone who is seen as a role model for children should not advertise for an alcohol company, and that linking an aggressive sport such as mixed martial arts to alcohol sends out a “dangerous” message to children.

Budweiser responded that McGregor is not an “identifiable hero of the young” and that the competition was only open to over-18s.

The ASAI ultimately found “there was no aggression portrayed in the advertising nor indeed was there any overt reference to the sport”, but upheld grievances about McGregor being idolised by minors.

Meanwhile, eir was censured by the authority over broadband connectivity maps for Wicklow which were found to be misleading, while Three Ireland earned a rebuke for not naming the winner of a social media competition for a jersey belonging to Paul O'Connell.

Complaints were also upheld against PowerCity for a misleading advertisement about the price of a dishwasher, water utility company LowFlo and plumbing and heating products merchandiser South Coast Sales.

Burger King was unsuccessful in its submission that competitor Supermacs ran unsubstantiated and misleading advertisements.

Burger King had claimed statements over Supermacs burgers being “fresh, not frozen, 100% Irish beef...” insinuated that this was not the case for rivals.

However, the ASAI deemed that members of the public were “unlikely to be misled” by the ads.