Advertising on Diageo’s Facebook page for Guinness showed Guinness being poured. It was accompanied by the Guinness logo and a link to the drinkaware.ie website.
The post read:
“Busy day? Find a little calm in the storm”.
The complainants, Alcohol Action Ireland, objected to the Facebook post on the grounds that it implied that Guinness had therapeutic qualities and had therefore breached the alcohol provisions of the Code.
The advertisers said that as a company they take their responsibilities towards marketing their brands very seriously and go to significant lengths to ensure that their marketing communications abide by the rules set out in the Code. They said that Guinness had for many years spoken about the “surge” and “settle” of a pint of Guinness and they considered it to be a well-known fact that it takes 119.5 seconds for a pint to be perfectly poured. They said that the creative in question was clearly a reference to the surge and settle of a pint of Guinness being akin to a weather event (the calm in the storm) and this was reflected in the image of the surging pint being poured.
The advertisers also pointed out that their Facebook page was age gated to ensure that those who used it were of legal alcohol purchase age in Ireland. They considered that the audience who viewed the creative would be fans of Guinness and familiar with the terminology and reference points to the Guinness surge and settle. They said they did not believe that viewers of their Facebook page would believe that Guinness had therapeutic qualities. The tag-line as a stand-alone item “Busy day? Find a little calm in the storm” was not claiming that alcohol had therapeutic qualities or that it was a stimulant, a mood changer or a sedative or that it was a means of boosting confidence or resolving personal conflict. They also considered that when the advertisement was viewed as a complete creative (text and image) that it was clear that it was making no claim whatsoever and certainly not one that could be considered to be in breach of Section 7.7(e) of the Code.
The Secretariat asked the advertisers to explain how the reference to “Busy Day” fitted into the explanation provided by them.
The advertisers said that brands frequently used social media as a mechanism to engage with consumers and often posed questions or comments on general events. In this instance Guinness had posed a question, which they considered when viewed in context with the creative and language used, could not be considered to breach the requirements of the Code.
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response. They did not accept the advertisers’ reasoning behind the Facebook post and considered that the advertisers had inferred that following a busy day that drinking Guinness helped those who were tired or hassled to relax and unwind. In the circumstances the Complaints Committee upheld the complaint under Section 7.7(e) of the Code.
The advertising should not be used in its current form again.