Ricky Gervais drinks ad BANNED from TV despite 'no swearing' - but is it justified or cancel culture at play?

Ricky Gervais drinks ad BANNED from TV despite 'no swearing' - but is it justified or cancel culture at play?

WATCH HERE: Ricky Gervais has released several ads unsuitable for TV for his drinks brand

Alex Davies

By Alex Davies

Published: 21/06/2024

- 11:55

Updated: 21/06/2024

- 16:08

The After Life star is the co-owner of Ellers Farm Distillery, the company behind Dutch Barn Vodka

Ricky Gervais has sparked quite a reaction by unveiling the latest advert made for his own alcoholic beverage brand.

In November 2023, Gervais became the new co-owner of Ellers Farm Distillery, a drinks company that pledges to produce products in a "sustainable", "ethical" and eco-friendly way.

For the past few months, Gervais has been taking to social media to share prospective adverts for the company's best-selling product, Dutch Barn Vodka.

Each one has been shot with Gervais' typical blend of cutting-edge humour and dry punchlines, more often than not littered with expletives.

After all, the 62-year-old is no stranger to pushing boundaries and prompting cancel calls from disgruntled critics for his no-holds-barred jokes on issues such as trans rights and immigration.

Gervais claimed his latest ad, however, had been pitched to TV advertising bodies only to have been "denied any TV exposure" despite there being no swearing in the clip.

Rick Gervais

Rick Gervais has released a series of unsuitable-for-TV adverts about his brand


However, the clip does include a rather crude phrase about a sexual act.

Gervais revealed all when he shared the advert on social media, writing alongside it: "Just been informed this advert has been denied any TV exposure. Can’t think why. There’s not even any swearing. I’m destroying this company. #DutchBarn."

He says in the advert: "Hi, I'm Ricky Gervais, and this is Dutch Barn Vodka. It's made from British apples and it tastes great.

"But, like all strong liquor, it can affect your well-being. Like a guy I used to know, Paul Cornish, best footballer at school, good-looking lad... started drinking way too much (and) lost his job, ended up homeless.

Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais is no stranger to facing backlash or cancel calls for his comedy


"He s****d off a businessman once for a sandwich," he added with a grimace before signing off the ad by pointing at a bottle and saying: "Dutch Barn."

Of course, Gervais' fans branded the ad "hilarious" and the "funniest thing" they'd seen that day.

And many took Gervais' claims with a pinch of salt, with many laughing at the fact he ever thought it'd be suitable for TV.

But does the ad actually breach any rules given it contains no swearing and should it be banned from the airwaves?

After all, there are plenty of adverts out there targeted to more mature audiences that tend to go out post-watershed.

In Gervais' case, however, it appears the prevention of sharing the ad on screens isn't quite cancel culture at play but more to do with the guidelines set out by ASA (Advertising Standards Authority).

ASA operates according to the UK Code of Broadcast Advertising (BCAP Code) which outlines key restrictions in place for alcohol promotions.

While alcohol doesn't fall under a prohibited category in the broadcast code, Gervais appears to risk breaching several guidelines if the advert made it air.

Ricky Gervais

Is stopping Ricky Gervais' drinks adverts from airing on TV justified?


In section 19.2 of the code, "advertisements must not feature, imply, condone or encourage irresponsible or immoderate drinking. That applies to both the amount of drink and the way drinking is portrayed".

In 19.5 of the BCAP code, "advertisements must not link alcohol with daring, toughness, aggression or unruly, irresponsible or antisocial behaviour".

And arguably most damning of all in terms of Gervais' latest attempt to get his brand out there, 19.6 states: "Advertisements must not link alcohol with sexual activity, sexual success or seduction or imply that alcohol can enhance attractiveness."

Gervais may also be at risk of breaching section 19.7 too which reads: "Advertisements must not portray alcohol as indispensable or as taking priority in life."

And finally, in 19.12, the BCAP Code rules that "advertisements must not feature alcohol being handled or served irresponsibly".

All in all, it'll come as no surprise to Gervais - as he alluded to in his tongue-in-cheek post - that his latest Dutch Barn ad will have to make do with a home on the web.

But with 14.9million followers on X, one fan perfectly summed up: "You reached more people with this post than any network you have access to, so... no big loss."

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