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Offsite Article: Is The Advertising Standards Authority Drunk?...

Link Here7th December 2022
Brewdog once again shows that there is no need to pay for advertising when the self-proclaimed authority can be conned into doing the job...

See article from



Prescription Gin...

Take one swig when riled by joke censors

Link Here20th November 2022
Prescription Gin offers the service to customise labels with a jokey prescription label with a customer specified name and dosage.

One example came to the attention of the trade organisation, the Portman Group, who act as drink label censors. The customer specified dosage read:

Take ONE swig before each exam. GOOD LUCK!

The Portman Group went on to ban the label under two counts of its censorship rules:

  • A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way encourage illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as drink-driving, binge-drinking or drunkenness.

  • A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest that the product has therapeutic qualities, can enhance mental or physical capabilities, or change mood or behaviour.

The drinks company, MixPixie, commented:

The company addressed the concern raised by the complainant that one of the bottles featured on its website included the front label text take one swig before each exam. Good luck!. The company explained that the product was personalised and that this particular product had been ordered by a customer. The company explained that when a customer bought the product, they had to confirm that they were over 18 years of age. Additionally, the company pointed out that when Royal Mail delivered its products, they could not hand it to anyone under-18. The company then stated that the complainant had presumed that this particular bottle was for a young person doing exams, but that in reality, it was most likely that this order was for a mature student.

The company stated that to resolve this particular issue with the complaint, it had removed this photo from its product page.

The Portman Group censor panel commented:

The Panel discussed the producer's formal response to the complaint and noted that the producer had stated that it could not be held responsible for what a customer chose to include but that it had the ability to vet what had been written before sending the label to be printed and could contact the customer to change it or issue a refund if the proposed text was inappropriate for an alcoholic product. The Panel sought to remind the producer that it did have responsibility for the entirety of the product, including the customisable element, as ultimately the producer could regulate the customisable content. The Panel noted that once the producer chose to incorporate the customer's personalisation on the product, the product in its entirety became the responsibility of the producer as it had willingly, and knowingly, printed the label onto its branded product.

The Panel discussed whether the product suggested that it had therapeutic qualities, could enhance mental or physical capabilities, or change mood or behaviour. The Panel considered that the product was deliberately, and overtly, designed to look like a prescription medicine and that such medicines were synonymous with being used to cure and relieve physical and/or mental ailments. The Panel reiterated the points made during discussion under other Code rules and noted the usage of the exact replica of a pharmacy cross, small medicinal bottle shape and medicinal liquid colour which, when combined, suggested that the product had therapeutic qualities. The Panel also noted that the front of the bottle stated, POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: MAY INCLUDE EXTREME RELAXATION, GIDDINESS AND HAPPINESS. The Panel considered that this directly suggested that the product could help a consumer to relax and that it would also result in happiness after consumption. The Panel considered that these phrases also suggested that the product had a therapeutic effect and that it could change someone's mood. The Panel therefore concluded that the product breached rule 3.2(j).



Old and Miserable advert censors...

ASA bans Instagram post for Jung and Sexy wine from Pure Wines

Link Here13th July 2022

A paid-for Instagram post and a website for Pure Wines, seen on 26 April 2022.

  • a. The paid-for Instagram post featured the text Spark Up Your Life alongside an image of six bottles of wine. An illustration on the label of one of the bottles showed a woman from the neck down, with her breasts exposed, drinking a glass of wine.

  • b. The website, featured a listing for JUNG & SEXY * PET-NAT wine with text that stated R-Rated and an image of the product that had the same label illustration as ad (a). Further text stated, This dark ros39 Pet Nat wine is less provocative than its label but is as entertaining at the same time.

A complainant, who believed the ads linked alcohol with seduction, sexual activity and sexual success, challenged whether they breached the Code.

Pure Wines Ltd said that ad (a) was for a mixed case of sparkling wines called Spark Up Your Life. They did not believe that there was any link between the ad and seduction, sexual activity or sexual success, nor did it imply that alcohol could enhance attractiveness.

They said ad (b) was a listing for a wine called Jung & Sexy * Pet-Nat. They explained that this was a wine named and labelled by one of their suppliers, which was an Austrian winery. It was a young wine, which meant that it was produced and released a short time after the harvest. They said no sexual connotation had been intended and if the winery's intention had been to imply any connection between the design of the label and the name of the wine it would have been that both were sexy, but not sexual. They said that neither the design of the label nor the name of the wine contained a connotation of seduction, sexual activity or sexual success, nor did they imply that alcohol could enhance attractiveness.

They stated that the text r-rated implied that the wine was not suitable for consumers below the age of 18, like all their wines. They said this was an American expression from the world of cinema and was used figuratively.

ASA Assessment: Complaint upheld

The CAP Code required that marketing communications must neither link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success nor imply that alcohol could enhance attractiveness.

The ASA understood that both ads featured a bottle of alcoholic sparkling wine with an illustration on the label and considered the image was of a woman wearing pants and a long sleeved top which had been pulled up to expose her naked breasts. Her face was not fully visible, but she was sipping a glass of wine. We understood that this label was one which appeared on the product itself. We also understood that the text Jung & Sexy in ad (b) referred to the name of the product.

Notwithstanding that, we considered that the way the model was posed and styled on the label, including that her breasts were deliberately exposed, meant that the image would be seen as sexually suggestive and featured a seductive pose. We therefore considered it was inherently sexual in nature.

We acknowledged that the text, Spark Up Your Life in ad (a) was a reference to the sparkling wines in the case. However, we also considered that, when viewed in conjunction with the image of the woman on label, the text might be understood to refer to sexual activity and further reinforced the depiction of the woman in the ad as sexual in nature.

We considered that impression was also reinforced by the use of the term r-rated in ad (b), which would be understood to refer to films containing adult themes, such as sexual activity. [Note that in the US an R rating is a minimum age of 17 and generally does not allow much in the way of sexual activity].

We considered the text This -- wine is less provocative than its label but is as entertaining at the same time in ad (b), when viewed in conjunction with the image of the woman, would be understood to be an explicit reference to the sexually suggestive pose and styling on the label and also reinforced the depiction of the woman as sexual in nature.

Because the image, particularly in connection with some of the text, was inherently sexual, we concluded that the ads linked alcohol with seduction and sexual activity and therefore breached the Code.

The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Pure Wines Ltd to ensure their future advertising did not link alcohol to seduction, sexual activity or sexual success.



Causing unnecessary distress to viewers...

Aggressive vegan advert banned by ASA

Link Here8th June 2022

A TV ad for Vegan Friendly UK, a campaign group, seen in March 2022, showed two women and one man sat around a table eating.

The first woman said, [A]nd plastic straws are ruining the oceans. Poor fish don't stand a chance. A close-up of the woman's mouth whilst eating fish was shown, followed by three clips of fish in quick succession, before showing the woman's mouth again. The first clip showed a large number of live fish out of water on a conveyor belt, the second clip showed a close-up of a fish head which was still gasping for air, and the final clip showed headless fish being filleted on a chopping board that had streaks of blood and fish guts on it.

The man then said, There's countries that still have bullfighting, to which the first woman replied, And wet markets. A close-up of his meal was then shown, followed by a close-up of him eating it. The man replied, They just don't care about animals like we do babe, followed by three clips in quick succession. The first clip showed a live piglet, alongside a pig with its eyes closed. The second clip then showed pork meat being chopped with a cleaver, followed by blood splashing onto a takeaway box.

The second woman then said, Let's not even mention human rights issues. A close-up of the man eating with his mouth open was shown, and quickly followed by a close-up of a burger, with thick red sauce spilling out. The first woman replied, Can we all just treat living beings the same please, to which the second woman said That's real equality. A close-up of the woman eating the burger was shown, followed by a clip of a cow's face which appeared to have tears coming from its red eye, alongside a moo-ing sound.

Close-ups of all three adults eating loudly with their mouths open were shown in quick succession, and the second woman had red sauce smeared on her face. Interchanging clips of animals followed by the humans' eyes were then shown. The first animal clip showed a piglet's eyes, alongside a squealing noise. The second animal clip was a fish out of water with its gills moving. The third animal clip showed the eye of a pig, accompanied by squealing, and the fourth showed the eye of a chicken, accompanied by squawking. The face of a live cow was then shown, which was then quickly followed by a cow's skinned head, with its eyes and teeth still present, lying on its side. As they continued to eat, text stated no animal was harmed, consumed, or purchased to make this advert, followed by the text MAKE THE CONNECTION.

The ASA received 63 complaints:

1. Some complainants challenged whether the ad contained graphic imagery and gratuitous violence towards animals, which caused unnecessary distress to viewers;

2. Some complainants also challenged whether the ad was scheduled appropriately, because it was broadcast when children could be watching; and

3. Some complainants challenged whether the ad was offensive because it vilified meat eaters.

Vegan Friendly believed that the ad did not cause distress, but said that if offence was caused by the ad, it was justifiable because billions of animals were killed in the meat industry.

ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld

1. & 2. Upheld

The BCAP Code stated that ads must not distress the audience without justifiable reason. The Code also stated that relevant timing restrictions must be applied to ads that might harm or distress children of particular ages, or that are otherwise unsuitable for them. We acknowledged that the ad was given a scheduling restriction which prevented it from being transmitted in or adjacent to programmes commissioned for, principally directed at or likely to appeal to children under 16.

The ASA noted that some of the imagery used in the ad was graphic in nature. Whilst some of the images were not inherently graphic or violent, we considered that some of the clips shown were likely to cause distress within the context of the ad; in particular, the clip of the cow which appeared to be crying, and the several clips that showed fish struggling to breathe. We also considered that the image of the skinned cow's head shown at the end of ad was particularly graphic and, in itself, likely to cause distress to both younger and adult audiences.

We considered the way in which the ad was shot had an impact upon the distress likely to have been felt by the audience. We noted that the quick succession of clips shown throughout the ad, and the juxtaposition between the adults eating and the animal imagery, would heighten the distress felt by viewers. We also considered that the camera angle was used to focus on the distress of the animals shown in the ad, for example by focusing on the gills moving in the several clips of the fish or the eye of the crying cow. In addition, we considered that the splash of blood that jumped from one clip and landed on the takeaway box in the following clip, deviated from what would be expected in normal food preparation, and as such we considered its inclusion to be gratuitous. We therefore considered that the way that the ad had been shot and edited contributed to the visceral nature of the ad.

We noted that both Clearcast and Vegan Friendly UK understood that the imagery shown in the ad was akin to what viewers could expect to see in cookery programmes or on the high street when walking past a butcher's shop or fishmonger's shop. We acknowledged that some clips which showed meat or fish being prepared for consumption, such as the fish being filleted, would not be out of place out on food programmes or when purchasing meat or fish. However, we considered that several of the clips shown, such as the clips which depicted animals in distress or the skinned cow's head, would likely not be seen in these places. In addition, visiting a butcher or watching a cookery programme was an active choice which came with different expectations to those of TV ads.

For those reasons, we concluded that the ad was likely to cause distress to both younger and adult audiences and therefore was not suitable for broadcast on TV regardless of scheduling restrictions.

3. Not upheld

We acknowledged that some viewers might believe that the adults were portrayed as hypocritical in their discussion of social and environmental issues in the ad, and might see the ad as portraying the characters in a negative light. We also acknowledged that some may have found the close-up shots of the adults eating unpleasant. However, we considered that the shots were both exaggerated for effect and we considered viewers would generally accept that the ad was trying to highlight how people's actions might not necessarily align with their beliefs.

We considered that the ad would be seen in the context of Vegan Friendly's wider aim to increase peoples' consumption of plant-based food by imploring them to think about the relationship between meat and animals being killed, rather than explicitly vilifying meat eaters. We considered that was reinforced by the tagline make the connection at the end of the ad.

We also noted that the adults were not shown killing or harming the animals, and neither was derogatory nor insulting language used towards them for choosing to eat meat.

For those reasons, we concluded that the ad was likely to be seen as distasteful by some viewers, but not likely to cause widespread offence by vilifying meat eaters.

The ad must not appear again in the form complained of. We told Vegan Friendly UK to avoid using imagery which was likely to cause distress to both younger and adult audiences.

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