BREWER ISSUES 'UNRESERVED APOLOGY' FOR CONCERN AND EMBARRASSMENT

‘We hope he’d be proud’: Heineken blunders as teetotal Methodist used to plug Bulmers

By Ben BOUCKLEY contact

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Advertising

The Bulmers advert that appeared in GQ Magazine
The Bulmers advert that appeared in GQ Magazine
Heineken-owned brand Bulmers admits it scored an advertising own goal by mistakenly using a picture of a teetotal Welsh Methodist minister instead of its founder's father to promote the cider.

The embarrassing advertising gaffe – the ad spotted in GQ Magazine ​is pictured above – sees Victorian clergyman Hugh Price Hughes flanked by text that states: “We hope he’d be proud that they used his money wisely, and that Bulmers cider continues to be made in Hereford to this day.”

In 1889 Henry Percival ‘Percy’ Bulmer and his brother Fred took a loan of £1,760 ($2,829) from their father – Reverend CH Bulmer, whose image Bulmers intended to use in the advert – to buy eight acres of land outside Hereford and build their first hard cider mill.

Advertising agency commits 'serious error'

A Heineken UK spokesman admitted to BeverageDaily.com that it had made a “serious error”​ in the magazine advert, which has now been pulled, after its ads agency sourced the erroneous image.

The firm said it took great care to ensure accurate alcohol marketing in accordance with guidelines, but “we very occasionally make a mistake and our investigations revealed this to be the case”.

Fervent Christian Hughes (1847-1902) founded the West London Methodist Mission to drive through social change and reform, and a 1999 biography by Christopher Oldstone-Moore describes him as the most influential Methodist leader in Britain during the late 19th​ century.

Ministers stresses Hughes' commitment to temperance

Reverend Val Reid, minister at Hinde Street Methodist Church, home of the mission founded by Hughes, told this publication: "So far, I'm very happy with Heineken's response - they acknowledged their mistake as soon as they knew about it, and have worked hard to do the best they could to make amends.​"
 
She added: "Being socially responsible about the use of alcohol is important to us. As well as Hugh Price Hughes' commitment to temperance, and the social work projects he began, Methodist churches are known as safe places for those who struggle with addiction because they are alcohol-free zones."

"Hinde Street Methodist Church in particular is well known as a venue for Alcoholics Anonymous, and other 12-step groups dealing with a wide range of addictive behaviours,"​ Reid said.

"So it's vital to avoid the sort of confusion the Bulmers ad might generate!"

Heineken issues ‘unreserved apology’

Reid told the BBC she was initially stonewalled by Heineken as she could not get past the switchboard – the firm's spokesman told us the brewer is investigating her problems in this respect – but a compliant to the UK Advertising Standards Authority led to Heineken contacting her.

“We fully appreciate the distress this caused to the Hinde Road Methodist Church congregation and the wider Methodist Church community given the excellent work that the church does with the West London Mission to support people with alcohol related problems,”​ Heineken’s spokesman said.

He added that the church had accepted Heineken’s “unreserved apology for the concern and embarrassment that our error caused”.

“We have assured them that the advertisement will not be repeated in its current form and the ASA have confirmed they are satisfied that the matter has been amicably resolved and they plan to take no further action,”​ he said.

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