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Product: Miscellaneous (Nicotine Pouch)
Advertiser: JTI Ireland Limited (Nordic Spirit)
ASAI Code 7th Edition: 3.3, 4.1, 4.4, 7.2
The outdoor advertisement featured two girls walking on a grassy bank overlooking the sea. They were smiling and appeared to be enjoying each other’s company. The caption read:
“A FRESH WAY TO ENJOY NICOTINE. NEVER MISS A MOMENT WITH NORDIC SPIRIT”
A round box of the product appeared underneath the caption with three of the nicotine pouches alongside. The writing on the product box read:
“REGULAR. NICOTINE POUCHES . SMOOTH MINT”
The text underneath the box read:
“FIND YOUR LOCAL STORE ON NORDICSPIRIT.IE
ALSO AVAILABLE IN BERRY CITRUS
18 This product contains nicotine
Nicotine is an addictive substance”
A link to the advertisers’ Facebook and Instagram account was provided in the bottom right-hand corner of the billboard.
The complainants raised the following issues with the advertisement.
The use of the terms ‘enjoy’ and ‘fresh’ in conjunction with a nicotine product, which they considered to be a well-known addictive, harmful stimulant was ill advised and out of step with medical advice. The complainants considered that this terminology was used to project a natural, wholesome image of the smooth mint product and considered it to be misleading on the one hand to state that nicotine was ‘addictive’ while on the other hand advising people to ‘enjoy’ it.
One complainant considered that the product should not have been advertised on a busy road where all ages could view the content of the advertisement.
The advertisers said that the phrase “A fresh way to enjoy nicotine” reflected the novelty of the product in Ireland with Nordic Spirit being the first nicotine pouch product on the market here. They said that unlike cigarettes and e-cigarettes, nicotine pouches were smoke and vapour free, and therefore offered adult nicotine consumers a new way to conveniently consume nicotine without needing to find a smoking area or move outdoors to do so.
Another factor, they said, which differentiated nicotine pouches from cigarettes and e- cigarettes was that the nicotine was absorbed through the gums, rather than being inhaled, this contributed further to the element of nicotine pouches, and specifically Nordic Spirit being a new or fresh method of consumption for existing adult nicotine consumers. As such the phrase “A fresh way to enjoy nicotine” had been directly aimed at existing adult nicotine consumers who wished to try this novel way of using the product. They said the term ‘fresh’ was also used here, as the product in the advertisement was smooth mint in flavour. Therefore, the use of the term ‘fresh’ had referred to the novelty of the product, while also reflecting its fresh mint flavour.
The advertisers said that the recommended call to action in their advertising was for adult consumers to visit the Nordic Spirit website to find out more about the product, including where it could be purchased. This website was age-gated and accessible only to adult consumers who confirmed they were over 18 years of age. They said the age gating of their website, however, was not a legal requirement but as a responsible manufacturer, they had put this measure in place.
They said that as a company they adhered to a strict set of internal marketing principles when advertising their products. While it was not a legal requirement, when advertising the product in question, they had ensured that it contained a clear 18+ symbol and a nicotine warning which stated “18+ This product contains nicotine. Nicotine is an addictive substance.” They said that as all relevant information had been provided in their advertising, they did not consider it to be misleading.
The advertisers said that the advertising referenced by the complainants in this instance had been located on busy thoroughfares, with existing adult nicotine consumers being the intended target audience for their product.
The advertisers said that as part of their rigorous internal review process, particular attention had been paid to ensure that their marketing communications had not appealed to those under the age of 18. The models used in their advertising were over 25 and they had not been portrayed engaging in activities that purposely appealed to young people nor had there been any association with youth culture depicted. They said in addition, they ensured that their advertising had not been placed within 100 metres walking distance of schools, creches or playgrounds to minimise the exposure of young people to its contents.
In conclusion the advertisers said that considerable effort had been put into the preparation of their advertisements, with responsible marketing and communication principles integral to their planning.
Complaints not upheld.
The Complaints Committee considered the details of the complaints and the advertisers’ response. They noted that while there was nothing in the ASAI Code to prevent the product from being advertised, the advertisers had taken precautionary measures to ensure that the target audience for their advertising was 18+.
The Committee also noted that it was evident from the advertising that the product contained nicotine and that this was an addictive substance.
In conclusion the Committee considered that the advertising was not misleading, nor had it been targeted at children, and did not consider that it had breached the Code on the basis suggested in the complaints.
No further action required in this case.