A while ago, I somehow reminded myself that when I was a young, tiny Ward, I once had my photo taken with the Hofmeister bear. I couldn’t remember actually meeting the Hofmeister bear, but I was sure I remembered the photograph. I wondered if maybe I had made the whole thing up, but last time I was at Ward HQ, I found this:
It’s a photo of me with the Hofmeister bear.
Unlike this picture of me on holiday, this photo does at least seem to offer some information to help me date the picture. Ignore my Muppets T-shirt. That is a red herring. The Muppets Show ran from 1976 to 1981, and it’s obviously not 1981 as that was the year I was born. The most significant clue is surely the boy in the background wearing a Ghostbusters sweatshirt. I am certain that the sweatshirt relates to the cartoon series rather than the film (the library scene at the beginning of the film would have made that kid shit himself). The Real Ghostbusters ran from 1986 to 1991. I’d say this must be 1987 (which also suggests my guess regarding the date of the other photograph is probably spot on).
It seems remarkable now that even a fairly weak lager would be advertised by a funny, friendly bear. Indeed, Section 11.8.2(a) of the current ASA guidelines relating to the advertisement of alcoholic drinks on television specifically states that:
Advertisements for alcoholic drinks must not be likely to appeal strongly to people
You might argue that the character of George the bear was unlikely to appeal to young children. He was a bit of a wide boy; hanging out in pubs, swilling beer. He had attitude. However, he was also a bear in a hat, and kids love bears in hats. It’s a scientific fact. Put a hat on a bear, and kids will love it.
This advert covers the biography of George in quite satisfactory detail:
He grew up in the forests of Bavaria, got a bit bored, steals some beer off some couple making out in the woods and then goes to the pub. I bet he only featured in the adverts because his grandad appears on the Hofmeister logo. Pure nepotism.
Incidentally, the advert would also appear to be in breach of Section 11.8.1(a)(1) and Section 11.8.1(c) of the current guidelines:
11.8.1(a)(1) Advertisements must not suggest that alcohol can contribute to an individual’s popularity or confidence […] Nor may they suggest that alcohol can enhance personal qualities.
11.8.1(c)Advertisements must not link alcohol with sexual activity or success or imply that alcohol can enhance attractiveness.
It’s clear that George isn’t a very suitable role model for a young boy. I wonder what my parents were thinking.
I also appear to be holding a mouse.