The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints and banned ads by Diageo and Beverage Brands (UK) Ltd promoting the alcopop drinks Smirnoff Ice and WKD ruling that the ads were likely to appeal to children.
In both instances the ASA decided that the ads did not comply with rule 11.8.2 (a) on the for the advertising of alcohol on TV which states that advertisements for alcoholic drinks must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under 18, in particular by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. As such, they should avoid themes that are associated with youth culture; and include immature, adolescent or childish behaviour or practical jokes.
Diageo argued that the ads were not targeted at children and that they were careful to schedule the ads at times when children would not usually be viewing. The ASA dismissed this argument stating that the rules concerned the content of ads regardless of their scheduling. In the case of the ads for Smirnoff Ice, Diageo featured the music and the ex singer of Icelandic band Quarashi. Whilst their albums had not been released in the UK, their music had been used in other ads and their music and videos had featured on other programmes. One of the ads was also similar in style to MTV’s “Cribs”. The ASA concluded that the singer and his character within the ads was likely to become a cult figure with strong appeal to under 18s, and as such the ads should not be shown again.
Diageo has asked for an independent review of the ASA decision.
I must confess I have some sympathy with the advertisers on this one, as my personal view is that scheduling should be taken into account as well as the content – unless the content is blatantly targeting under age drinkers. However, the truth of the matter is that it is now quite hard to do good alcohol ads. In these cases it is even harder as alcopops still appeal and are drunk by younger people, and therefore needless to say under age drinkers too.
The WKD ads were very ‘ladish’ and certainly primarily targeting the young male (student age?) drinker. I have no idea if they were successful, but I have never seen anyone male drinking a bottle of WKD in a pub ever. The ads were also frankly annoying and clearly immature and adolescent and featuring childish behaviour and/or practical jokes. The Smirnoff ones were certainly cleverer, but again the problem was in creating a successful campaign – and basing parts on recognised styles of programming (such as ‘Cribs’) they were just asking for trouble. I think it is now very hard for drinks companies and their ad agencies to create campaigns that don’t run the risk of falling foul of the current rules – and indeed the success of the potential ads could be the thing that decides if they get banned or not.
Maybe the logical conclusion is the eventually banning of al alcohol ads on TV as happened with tobacco ads?