Boston Beer Company, which owns the Samuel Adams beer brand, is defending the omission of the reference to God in an ad featuring words from the Declaration of Independence.
In the ad, which has an Independence Day theme, an actor says, "All men are created equal, that they are endowed with certain unalienable rights: life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness."
The Declaration of Independence states "…that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
The ad has aired for about three weeks focusing on the July Fourth holiday, but the company is still receiving angry comments posted on its Facebook page.
"I guess I should not be surprised that a company, interested only in profit, would rewrite American history for commercial gain," wrote one Facebook user on Samuel Adams' Facebook page. "However, abusers of history will no longer receive any of my money to support their censorsed [sic] advertising campaigns."
In a statement, the Boston Beer Company says it was just trying to follow a code implemented by the trade group, The Beer Institute, which is based in Washington, D.C., and represents 2,800 breweries.
"We adhere to an advertising code, established by the Beer Institute - a beer industry trade organization - that states, 'Beer advertising and marketing materials should not include religion or religious themes'," according to a statement provided by a Boston Beer Company spokeswoman. "We agree with that, and we follow these guidelines and approach our marketing with the utmost responsibility."
When asked about this Advertising code, a spokesman for The Beer Institute explained, "Brewers are committed to a policy and practice of responsible advertising and marketing, and the Beer Institute's Advertising and Marketing Code is a model of responsible industry self-regulation."
"While our guidelines for brewers and beer importers have evolved over time to meet the country's evolving social, commercial and technological norms, the premise of these guidelines has remained unchanged - to ensure that brewers and beer importers market and advertise their products responsibly and to adults of legal drinking age," according to a statement provided by Christopher Thorne, the Beer Institute's vice president of communications.
"The Beer Institute's Advertising and Marketing Code does say that beer advertising and marketing materials should not employ religion or religious themes," the Institute's statement continued. "It also says that brewers should use the perspective of the reasonable adult consumer of legal drinking age in advertising and marketing their products. Ultimately, what determines adherence to the Advertising and Marketing Code is whether someone is using religion or religious themes to promote their beer in a way that would offend a reasonable adult consumer of legal drinking age."
The institute's Ad and Marketing Code allows for review of any public complaints by a third-party panel, the Code Compliance Review Board.
"This independent panel is empowered to render judgments on whether particular ads are in violation of the Ad and Marketing Code," the Institute explains.