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Advertiser: What's For Dinner
Medium: Direct Email
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 2.4(c), 9.1, 9.2, 9.4, 9.5(a), 9.8(a), 9.8(g)
A direct email promoting International Stout Day included various facts about a well-known stout brand and included the image of an old poster for the brand that stated “[brand redacted] is good for you”.
“Happy International Stout Day from the team here at What’s For Dinner!
It’s International Stout Day today! As we’re partial to the occasional pint or two of ‘the black stuff’ here at What’s For Dinner, we figured we’d celebrate the day that’s in it by sharing a few of our favourite [Brand name] related facts with you.”
Included in the various facts were the following:
“Stout used to be advertised as being healthy.
You’ve seen the old [brand name] advertisements with slogans like “[brand] Is Good For You”, right? Well back in the 18 and 1900’s doctors believed that stout aided digestion and restored lost appetite, so they would often prescribe it to invalids and nursing mothers!”
“[Brand name] contains less calories than you might think.
You might expect a creamy pint of [Brand name] to be pretty calorific, but you’d be wrong, it only contains an estimated 166 calories. For reference, that’s just slightly more than a lot of “light” beers and less than wine, orange juice and even low fat milk!”
Also included were facts relating to the time taken to pour the ‘perfect’ stout, the colour of the product, the % of product sold in Africa and the Book of World Records.
The complainant considered that advertisement promoted the consumption of alcohol and was misleading by inferring that alcohol:
Issue 1: was in some way good for you.
Issue 2: was low in calories.
Issue 3: The Complainant also considered that this type of marketing could be extremely harmful to some in early stages of recovery from alcohol addiction.
Issue 4: The ASAI Executive noted that the advertisement had not included a responsibility message.
The advertisers said that in hindsight they acknowledged that none of the advertising would be considered as best practice when following the Codes and they undertook to refrain from engaging in any similar advertising in the future, ensuring that all future advertising will be in within the Code requirements.
In relation to the complaint issues raised about the advertising:
Issue 1: The advertisers said that their intention, in relation to the representation of the old poster, had been to outline facts that the referenced brand had previously advertised, not to promote or advertise the message themselves.
Issue 2: The advertisers said that their intention, in relation to the statement on calories, was to put forward a question rather than make any factual statement.
Issue 3: The advertisers did not comment on the potential for harm for recovering addicts.
Issue 4: The advertisers said that they had regretfully omitted to include a message to “drink alcohol responsibly”.
Complaint Upheld In Part
The Complaints Committee considered the detail of the complaint and the advertisers’ response.
Issue 1 - Upheld:
The Committee noted that the explanation that the intention had been to outline what previous advertising for the product category had stated. However, the claims made would not be compliant with current Code provisions, and the inclusion of the image of the heritage advertisement constituted a republication of the claim. In the circumstances the Committee considered that the advertisement was in breach of 9.8g.
Issue 2 – Not Upheld:
The Committee noted that the Code required that alcohol advertising should only depict or imply the responsible and moderate consumption of alcoholic drinks. While they noted that the advertising had compared an alcohol product’s calorie levels to those of some non-alcohol products, they did not consider that the advertising in question promoted immoderate consumption and, on that basis, did not consider that this element of the advertising was in breach of the Code on the basis of the complaint.
Issue 3 – Not Upheld:
The Complaints Committee noted that no comments had been received in relation to the complaint that the advertising could be harmful to someone in the early stages of recovery. While noting the Code requirement around the responsible depiction of consumption, and taking account of the probable effect of the advertisement as a whole and in context, the Committee did not consider that the content was promoting immoderate consumption and, on that basis, did not consider that the advertisement was in breach of the Code on the basis suggested in the complaint.
Issue 4 - Upheld:
The Complaints Committee noted that the advertisers had acknowledged that they had omitted a message to drink alcohol responsibly. The Committee noted that the advertising had referred exclusively to alcohol, therefore, it should have included a responsibility message. In the absence of such a message, the Committee considered that the advertising was in breach of Section 9.4 of the Code.
The advertisement should not reappear in its current form.
The Committee welcomed the advertisers undertaking to ensure that all future advertising complied with the Code.