Scot complains about 'racist' Aldi whisky advert

The supermarket chain's radio ad was accused of being ‘racist towards the Scottish’ but advertising watchdog have since deemed it usable.

Published 10th Mar 2016
Updated 21 st Sep 2023

The ad which featured on Australian radio, begins with the sounds of bagpipes being played before a man with a strong Scottish accent introduces himself as the head distiller of Aldi's Highland Scotch Whisky.

A second voice, a woman with an English accent, then translates for him, despite protests from the original Scottish character stating that he was speaking in English.

One Scottish listener took offence to the ad, saying that they found the connotations that Scottish people cannot be understood offensive and complained to the Advertising Standards Board that the ad was racist.

The ad was for Aldi's Highland Earl Scotch whisky. Picture: contributed

The ad was for Aldi's Highland Earl Scotch whisky. Picture: contributed

The complaint read: “Advertisements like this perpetuate the stereotype that as a nation we cannot be understood.

“This should be taken in the context of would it be acceptable to put an interpreter on an advert for an Aboriginal product? No! There would be uproar. Why is it acceptable to be racist towards the Scottish?”

The supermarket chain dismissed the claim saying that the ad and the others in the series like it were simply intended to "light-hearted and humorous".

The advertising watchdog in Australia then ruled in German supermarket's favour, agreeing that the ad was not intended to cause offence.



“[The ads] highlight the provenance of ALDI’s liquor range though the highly distinctive accents of the producing region: France for ALDI’s Monsigny Champagne; New Zealand for ALDI’s Fraser Briggs Premium Lager; and in this case, Scotland for ALDI’s Highland Earl Whisky,” Aldi said.

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The board did agree that making fun of a person’s accent is not necessarily acceptable, but found that the ad in question does not make fun of a Scottish accent but rather plays on a common scenario whereby a strong accent can be difficult for some people to understand despite the same language being spoken.

The board previously dismissed a similar complaint against another Australian company Patties Foods in 2011. In that case, the ad featured a voiceover that said: “Scots have never been very welcome on the Australian worksite.”

The ad featured Scottish men in kilts, apparently not wearing underwear, flashing their Australian workmates.

That complaint was also dismissed as the portrayal of the Scots was deemed to be so exaggerated that it became humorous rather than offensive.


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