Monday, October 7, 2013

Brazil: Brewery Faces $2.7M Fine Over “True Black” Ad

Was a beer ad published in Brazilian magazines three years ago creative or racist?  The answer could lead to a multimillion-dollar fine against Japanese brewery Kirin.

Brazil’s Ministry of Justice opened legal proceedings against Kirin regarding a print ad with an illustration of a scantily clad dark-skinned woman wearing a dress and in a sensual pose.  The tagline of the ad for the dark-colored Devassa Tropical Lager beer reads, “A true black can be recognized by her body.  A highly fermented dark ale.  Creamy with an aroma of roasted malt.”

The Ministry of Justice concluded that the ad is “abusive” because it “equates a black woman with a consumer object.”  As a result, a $2.7 million fine could be made against Kirin based on a complaint that was made in 2011 by the consumer protection agency for Espiritu Santo state.

“The Code of Consumer Protection protects consumers from abusive advertising,” said Amaury Oliva, director of the Department of Consumer Protection and Defense (DPDC) of the Ministry of Justice.  “Advertising is indicative of business ethics. Freedom of initiative can not hurt the rights of the consumer,” he mentioned in a press conference last week.

Oliva added that other government agencies for women’s rights and racial equality expressed their concern over the ad in question since it “reinforces gender discrimination and racist stereotypes”.

A spokesperson for Brasil Kirin told the local press that the company “does not comment on ongoing legal proceedings. The company conducts its business ethically and with respect to all its stakeholders and consumers.”

The company has until October 14 to file a defense of the ad with the Ministry of Justice.

Ads for Devassa, a word that can be translated as “naughty”, typically rely on sex appeal in order to garner attention.  (As you can view at the top of this post, a 2011 comedic commercial for Devassa depicted a man pouring water from a hose on a lady). 

Perhaps the best-known ad for the brand was a 2010 commercial featuring Paris Hilton rubbing a cold can of beer on her thighs and chest.  The ad was banned from television after regulators found that it “devalues women - in particular, blonde women.” But the increased media coverage over the ad censored led to greater product awareness for the beer that was mostly unknown prior to the commercial.

Video Source– YouTube via user vitrinepublicitaria

Online Sources –;;; The Latin Americanist; Flavors of Brazil

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