The wine brand Yellow Tail has been accused of embarrassing Australia on the international stage with its Super Bowl advertisement featuring a woman in a bikini and a kangaroo in an apron.
The Australian company’s 30-second spot in the first half of the Super Bowl introduced an estimated audience of 120 million viewers to a muscular, wine-slugging kangaroo: “If you see a roo at a party, it’s a good party.”
In the ad, a supposed quintessential Australian larrikin wearing a yellow suit and tie and the oddly muscular “Roo” advocate the “fun” of drinking wine outside and with others.
Yellow Tail is the first wine brand to book a spot during the Super Bowl – described as television’s biggest advertising stage, with the ads the subject of as much discussion as the half-time show – in nearly 40 years.
With the beer giant Anheuser-Busch holding exclusive rights for all alcohol in the national in-game category, Yellow Tail opted to buy local spots in 70 markets to reach an expected 100m households.
“We’re using comedy to show that this wine is really fun to drink – to show that of the 5,000 wine brands in the space, Yellow Tail is the one that’s associated with fun,” said Mike Burns, the founder of the New York agency behind the ad, told Adweek.
The ad sparked cultural cringe among Australians on social media on Monday morning, who criticised not only its embarrassing reduction of their culture but also the fact that the cheap, mass-market Yellow Tail was representing Australia’s wine on the international stage.
The ad was also singled out for sexism for its showcasing the Australian model/actor Ellie Gonsalves’ ability to wear a white bikini and walk on a beach.
“Hi,” the presenter says to Gonsalves. “Wanna pet my roo?”
“Sure,” says Gonsalves. “I’ll pat your roo.” (News.com.au, meanwhile, took issue with the “unusually sexual” kangaroo.)
The “Yellow Tail Guy”, as the company wishes for him to be known, concludes his case for the wine by entreating audiences: “Let’s Yellow Tail!”
Yellow Tail, stylised as “[yellow tail]” and named for the yellow-footed rock wallaby that appears on its label, bills itself as a “wine brand inspired by fun”. It is owned by Casella Family Brands, which began as a family winery in the Riverina region of New South Wales in 1969.
According to Casella, it exports more than 12.5m cases of Yellow Tail to more than 50 countries every year; more than 2.5m glasses are consumed each day. A bottle retails for approximately A$9 (US$6.90).
Yellow Tail enjoyed considerable success in the US after its launch in 2001. The Super Bowl spot kicks off a new, three-year marketing campaign – a renewed push into the US market. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the ad is not of Australian origin.
According to AdNews, it was directed by Harald Zwart, a Dutch-Norwegian film-maker, known for the 2010 Karate Kid reboot and 2009’s The Pink Panther 2. It was devised by the New York-based advertising agency Burns Group.
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