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Company: A.G. Barr
    View Company Scorecard / Contact Company
Brand: Irn-Bru
Ad Title: Sing Song
Business Category: Non-Alcoholic Beverages
Media Outlets: Television
Country: United Kingdom
Region: Europe
Agency: The Leith Agency
Year: 2003
Target: Mainstream
Ad Spotter: Graham Mitchell



Problematic Language

Theme Breakdown

AdRespect Score: 
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Shot in black-and-white in a 1950s-era style, this over-the-top commercial for soda shows a mother sitting at the piano with her husband and son and daughter gathered around.

She asks, "Ready everybody?" Then begins playing a ditty on the piano. "Everybody in the world loves Irn-Bru," then each family member chimes in, "I do," "I do," "I do," "Me too." Then mom sings, "And I especially love Irn-Bru. Even though I used to be a man, even though I used to be a man!"

She turns with a smile to look at her family, who are all looking away awkwardly and upset, as this is obviously news to them.

The spot closes with her whistling the tune, and taking a shaver to her cheek, covered in shaving cream, with the sound of coarse hairs being cut.

This product is seen as a Scottish product in the UK, so the humor and "wierdness" of their campaigns plays on its regional roots. While this ad is hardly to be taken seriously, few transgender people will find it amusing.

OFCOM -- the British body responsible for standards of taste and decency in television advertising -- reported that 17 viewers complained.

The agency explained: “All felt it made a joke of transsexuals. They felt that transsexuals already encountered discrimination and that advertising should not be allowed to make fun of them.”

Although OFCOM agreed that “the mother was shown as a strong character and not ashamed of her transsexuality” -- thus diminishing the alleged "mockery," the regulator “felt that the end scene with the woman shaving could be seen as directly mocking transsexual women and was capable of causing offense by strongly reinforcing negative stereotypes.”

The IRN-BRU advert was found to be in breach of the Advertising Standards Code and had to be pulled from air.


Jacob , Dallas, TX
Not exceptionally bad, if only because of the extremely nonsensical portrayal. The ad is still in poor taste, and makes you wonder what ideas they must have turned down before deciding on this clunker.

Billy Rutherford , Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland
This ad should have won an award, it's the funniest I have ever seen. I am Gay and not offended in the slightest. It's good camp fun and a piss take of those "ever so clipped" English accents from the 50's. FAB!!

Andrea James , Los Angeles, CA
From the “I don’t have an idea, so let me try some gratuitous shock value” school of advertising.

Sean Martin , Calgary, Alberta, Canada
Oh, c'mon! How is this so different from the third verse of "I'm a Lumberjack?" Maybe it's just that wry UK sense of humor, but I found it pretty darn funny!

Warren , New York, NY
This ad is mildly amusing, but I just don't understand what her mentioning her previous gender has to do with soda?

Fiona Kennedy , Edinburgh, Scotland
It is unfair to look at this advert on its own. Irn-Bru has a history of comical adverts. Another Irn-bru advert showed a picture of a cow with the caption "When I'm a burger I want to be washed down with an Irn-Bru." It's a bit of fun to make you notice the advert. It's British humour at it best!

Pol Cavin , Glasgow, Scotland
This ad has to be one of, if not THE funniest of all the Irn-Bru ads! More a piss-take of the era of milky white, anodyne, church three times on a Sunday, "Nuclear Family is the norm" era of television it represents rather than any form of gender-phobia. What does it have to do with soda? Well, what does blue liquid have to do with women's periods?! It certainly made me laugh, and should do you too ;)

Brenda , Waterbury, CT
This ad offends transsexuals all over the world.

Sarah , Edinburgh, Lothian, Scotland
Yes, it's definitely a pisstake and I know a lot of LGBT people, none of whom have found it anything other than funny. Americans won't get it because it's a very British advert. You're right to say it plays off the Scottish weird humour aspect. When this was out I was in primary school and all of my friends understood what transgender was and we still found it funny, because it's sing song and yes, it makes fun out of a woman saying "I used to be a man", but not in a malicious way. The need for political correctness goes too far sometimes.

Chris , Manchester, England
Nonsensical and "Bad Taste" may be true - but the spirit of British humour is bad taste. It's about the freedom to laugh at the absurd, and not what we are told to find funny! These adverts should be held up as a master class for marketing companies around the world. Long Live Irn Bru!!!!

Suzi , Philadelphia, PA
Call me a glass half full kind of lesbian, but I thought it was kind of neat that she was unapologetic about the fact that she used to be a man. Even to the point of whistling happily while she shaved. Her family with their shocked expressions looked like the bad guys.


Amro Worldwide is so gay.
Company: A.G. Barr
Brand: Amro Worldwide
Country: United Kingdom
Region: Europe
Year: 2008

We'd Go Straight for Irn-Bru
Company: A.G. Barr
Brand: Irn-Bru
Country: United Kingdom
Region: Europe
Year: 2003


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