The ASA has upheld three complaints about whether two ads on the Buck Inn's, Sadberge, County Durham, Facebook page were offensive.
The poster was put on Facebook on 8 September 2017 advertising its “German Grub Night", from “Graham Ze Chef”.
The second post, dated 12 September 2017, showed that the Buck Inn had updated their Facebook profile picture to an image of a newspaper article about the “German night” poster.
The article featured an image of the poster and was titled “Pub’s German night ‘Nazi’ poster criticised”. The Buck Inn had also liked a number of comments by other individuals on their Facebook page in relation to the posts.
According to the ASA, the pub defended the posts by stating “Don't mention ze war” was a quote from Fawlty Towers and the use of this phrase in the ad, in conjunction with a cartoon image of their chef’s head on a German soldier, was intended to be "light-hearted and humorous".
The agency also said the pub gave assurances it was not promoting the Nazi party and it was "not intended to mock the Second World War in anyway".
The Buck Inn also told the ASA that the ad was seen on Facebook by over 500,000 people, and the fact that only three complaints were received indicated most people had interpreted the ad in the way they had intended, and had liked every comment by users on their page as they considered that it "helped to improve their interaction with consumers on Facebook".
Trivialised the war
As part of its decision, the ASA said: "The ASA acknowledged the phrase “Don’t mention the war” was a fairly well known quote from the sitcom Fawlty Towers.
"However, we considered that the use of an image of a Nazi soldier wearing a swastika and performing a Nazi salute to advertise the pub’s German cuisine night, in a humorous tone, was inappropriate and trivialised the events of the Second World War and actions of the German Nazi party. Furthermore, the ad appeared to link German culture intrinsically with Nazi Germany and the war. We therefore considered that ad (a) was likely to cause serious or widespread offence.
"We also considered that the Buck Inn’s activity on Facebook in ad (b) trivialised the reported offence that ad (a) was likely to cause, particularly in the use of the newspaper article as a Facebook profile picture. In particular we considered that the Buck Inn’s ‘liking’ of various comments by other users on their Facebook page, many of which contained distasteful jokes and puns in reference to the Holocaust, was also likely to cause serious or widespread offence".
The ASA has ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form.
"We told the Buck Inn to ensure that they did not cause serious or widespread offence by using Nazi references or imagery in their advertising, or by trivialising the events of the Second World War and actions of the German Nazi party," said the agency.
"We also told the Buck Inn to ensure that comments made by other users on their Facebook page, which in themselves were likely to cause serious or widespread offense, were not ‘liked’."
The Morning Advertiser has contacted the Buck Inn, but has not yet had a reply.