The Advertising Regulatory Board has ruled that the national anthem can be used to sell beer.

The Herald reports the board’s decision followed a complaint about a Castle Lager TV advert featuring a trainee waiter delivering beer to a customer. As he walks across the bar, patrons stand and sing Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, and the waiter eventually realises it is because the Springboks are singing the anthem on TV screens above him.

This upset viewer Thandi Norman, who complained to the watchdog that it was ‘disrespectful, reckless and offensive’ to associate the anthem with liquor.

Using the anthem to sell beer also diminished its role in the struggle for liberation, she said.

Castle Lager’s attorneys, Adams & Adams, told the watchdog the anthem had been used in other companies’ ads previously, and in this instance it featured in support of a 125-year-old SA product.

They argued that it required ‘an unreasonable stretch of the imagination’ to conclude that the ad set out to devalue or diminish SA’s history.

The watchdog said any advertising that condoned alcohol abuse or gender-based violence would be unacceptable – but the Castle Lager ad did not break any laws, and depicted a familiar occurrence in real life.

Full report in The Herald (subscription needed)