Who: Advertising Standards Authority (“ASA”), Diego Great Britain Ltd t/a Parrot Bay, Ten Motives Limited
Where: London, UK
When: October 2014
Law stated as at: 7 November 2014
The Diego Great Britain ASA adjudication involved a TV ad for an alcoholic frozen cocktail. The ad was shown at 6pm and featured a colourful, animated parrot squawking and being frozen whist the voice-over stated “Take the best of the Caribbean. Freeze it then crush it up and squeeze it out. Parrot Bay freeze and squeeze cocktails. Now available in passion fruit caipirinha flavour.” The text on the screen stated, “FREEZE A PARROT TODAY … CONTAINS ALCOHOL.”
The complaint centred around whether the ad was likely to appeal strongly to children and was therefore in breach of BCAP Code 19.15.1 which states that:
“Alcohol advertisements must not be likely to appeal strongly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture or showing adolescent or juvenile behaviour.”
The ASA held that, despite the adult beach-bar scene, the animated parrot with its slapstick humour meant that the ad was likely to appeal to children. The ASA noted that “the final frame included the text “CONTAINS ALCOHOL” but considered that this was not sufficient to ensure children would not take an interest in the ad.
BCAP guidance states that alcohol ads on TV should avoid using animation or cartoons as these could appeal to children. Moreover, humour does not prevent an ad from breaching the code and, in some instances, the use of immature humour in an ad could add to the risk of breach. In this instance, the ASA held that the slapstick humour, such as “FREEZE A PARROT TODAY” actually meant that the ad was more likely to appeal to children.
Coffee bean flavoured e cigs
The Ten Motives Limited ASA adjudication involved a printed circular for Ten Motives e-cigarettes, which featured an image of an ice cream with the chocolate flake replaced with an e-cigarette. The other side of the circular showed various different pictures of other flavours such as coffee beans and the text on the circular included, “FREE FLAVOURED REFILLS”, “Choose a flavour for free” and “Which flavour do you favour?”. The circular was sent to a demographic who had a high propensity to be smokers.
Again, this complaint centred on whether the ad irresponsibly appealed to children and would therefore breach CAP Code rule 1.3 which states that:
“Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and society.”
The ASA held that the prominence of the image of the ice cream, alongside the emphasis on different flavours and the connotation with ice cream flavours, meant that the ad was likely to appeal to children. Consequently the ads should not have been distributed in an untargeted medium by being dropped through letter boxes. The regulator concluded that the circular was irresponsible as it would appeal to children and it was untargeted.
Why this matters:
These ASA adjudications fit into the wider ASA emphasis on protecting young people. The ASA stresses that alcohol ads should not be directed at people under the age of 18, contain themes which are likely to appeal to them or link alcohol with irresponsible behaviour.
The Blue Parrot adjudication joins a long list of examples where the ASA has robustly applied the provisions in the CAP and BCAP Codes, such as those in Cider of Sweden Ltd and Cell Drinks.
Interestingly the ASA appears to be applying the same criteria to ads featuring e-cigarettes. This adjudication took place before the new UK advertising rules for e-cigarettes came into effect on 10 November 2014. However, the approach in Ten Motives is likely to be followed in future adjudications as CAP guidance states that the new rules emphasise the protection of young people.
In summary, under the new rules, ads for e-cigarettes should not appeal particularly to those under the age of 18 nor should they be directed at that age group through the use of certain types of media or context. Marketers should take a sensible approach to the marketing of e-cigarettes and ensure it is similar to that of marketing alcohol and avoids any appeal to children.