Who: The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), Clearcast Limited (Clearcast) and Trossachs Distillery Ltd t/a McQueen Gin
Where: United Kingdom
When: 25 September
Law stated as at: 10 October 2019
The McQueen Gin ad showed three people walking, climbing, jumping into lochs and generally being active and adventurous in the Scottish Highlands, interspersed with scenes and the sound of a drink being consumed. Upon climbing to the top of a rocky peak, the group raise their glasses of McQueen Gin, with a voiceover saying “Choose to explore; choose diving into something new; choose taking a different direction; choose nature and its elements; choose bringing your friends to the top; choose a drink full of adventure; choose McQueen Gin, adventurous Scottish spirit.”
A sole complainant questioned whether it was irresponsible to link alcohol with mountain climbing. The ASA upheld the complaint, thereby banning the McQueen Gin ad. The ASA’s reasoning was that the ad contravened BCAP Code Rule 19.13, which states:
“Advertisements may feature sporting and other physical activities (subject to other rules in this section) but must not imply that those activities have been undertaken after the consumption of alcohol.”
Clearcast ventured that the drink shown in the ad had been consumed at the top of the mountain, with the implication being that the group had only consumed the drink following, and not during, the activities. However, the ASA noted that the group, having ascended the mountain, would also need to go back down. As such, the sporting activity was not, in the ASA’s view, finished – the group would be undertaking the descent following the consumption of alcohol.
Why this matters:
The ASA received only one complaint and yet still decided to investigate and subsequently ban the ad in question. This serves as a further example to those in the alcoholic drinks industry of just how strictly the ASA will interpret advertisers’ obligation to ensure their ads do not promote irresponsible drinking.
When using sporting activities to promote alcoholic products, advertisers will need to take particular case to ensure their ads are compliant with the CAP Code.