Refreshment - Spirited advertising

Published: 28/07/2016

Various adverts on the Facebook page of a gin retailer were recently the subject of an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruling:

  1. A banana with the text “103 calories”, a gin and tonic with “91 calories”, followed by “make an informed decision”. The ASA considered consumers would understand the advert as making a favourable comparison between the calorific content of a gin and tonic and that of a banana. Accordingly, it was a ‘reduced energy’ comparative nutrition claim and must compare the difference in the claimed nutrient to foods of the same category, of which alcoholic-mixed drinks and fruits are not. The claim was, therefore, found to be in breach of the UK Code of non-broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing (the Code).

  2. A model with youthful features, short bobbed hairstyle and a large bow in her hair, a style considered by the ASA to be associated with children. On that basis, she was likely to be viewed as under-18, and given the ad implied she was consuming alcohol, it was found socially irresponsible and also in breach of the Code.

  3. An image from Where’s Wally?, into which a bottle of gin had been digitally added. The ASA considered it reflected youth culture and featured a fictitious character likely to appeal particularly to people under-18, constituting another breach.

  4. A man in a hospital bed ingesting gin through an intravenous drip, with text stating “The Doctor told me to keep my spirits up!” Despite recognising it as an absurd and unrealistic situation, the ASA was concerned by the image of alcohol served intravenously, and concluded the ad was socially irresponsible and breached the Code.
The ruling is a reminder that a light-hearted take on alcohol advertising can risk portrayal in a socially irresponsible manner.

The content of this article is for general information only. For further information regarding advertising rules and regulations, please contact Nellie Jackson or a member of Birketts' Food Production and Processing Team. Law covered as at July 2016.

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