ASA Adjudication on StageOne Events Inc
StageOne Events Inc t/a
4 January 2012
Number of complaints:
A circular for a club night in Newcastle, delivered as a door drop in October 2011, featured an image of a woman crouching in front of a man with her buttocks on display from beneath her dress. Foam spurted from the man's crotch. Text stated "every Wednesday TEQUILA come and swallow". A cartoon image of a mouth appeared in the top-left corner with the slogan "dedicated to oral pleasure". The reverse of the circular featured the same image and additional text about the club night. A review stated "A spirit-fuelled den of hedonism and debauchery". Other text stated "Tequilas [sic] coming to Newcastle ... will you swallow? ... we are here for your pleasure and your pleasure alone ... Tequila is where your hottest and sexiest experiences will take place! What you can remember is sure to be one of your greatest memories of university. Newcastle ... get ready to be seduced".
1. The complainant challenged whether the circular was offensive and unsuitable for an untargeted medium, where it could be seen by children.
The ASA challenged whether the circular:
2. condoned irresponsible consumption of alcohol; and
3. linked alcohol with sexual activity.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
Stage One Events Inc. (Stage One Events) apologised that the circular had caused offence in the local community. They said that it had been put through doors in the local area over one weekend as part of a campaign to launch a new student event in a very diluted market. It was felt that this would help the business and would offer a new event to the students of Newcastle and add to the social life of those attending university in the city, whilst also creating jobs in a stagnant market.
They said that they had licensed the brand from a franchisor (Tequila UK) and had not created or designed the circular but were responsible for its distribution.
Tequila UK said that the image used in the circular came from their image databank but said that the circular was not designed by them and said that Stage One Events were responsible for any material they used and distributed.
The ASA considered that, as they had licensed the brand from Tequila UK, that Stage One Events were responsible for the circular including its distribution.
We noted Stage One Events' argument that they created the circular to launch a new business in the area. We considered, however, that the image on the circular was sexually explicit and noted that claims on the circular "come and swallow" and "dedicated to oral pleasure" were clearly intended as sexual innuendo. We considered the text on the reverse of the circular which promised the "hottest and sexiest experiences" and ended with the claim "Newcastle ... get ready to be seduced" were sexually suggestive. We concluded therefore that the circular was likely to cause serious and widespread offence and was not appropriate for an untargeted medium, where it could be seen by children.
On this point, the circular breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).
We noted that the CAP Code required marketing communications to contain nothing that was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise, including excessive drinking. We considered however that there was a clear inference that excessive drinking was acceptable and condoned from anyone attending the event advertised in the circular. Aside from the fact that the event was called "Tequila", named after a well-known high-strength spirit, we noted that the circular included an apparent quote from a newspaper which described the event as a "spirit-fuelled den" the inclusion of which we considered took a celebratory tone which highlighted the fact alcohol consumption was condoned. We also considered that the claim "What you can remember is sure to be one of your greatest memories of university" encouraged the excessive consumption of alcohol to the point where guests would be so drunk that they could not recall what they had done during the previous evening. Because of a clear association with alcohol and excessive drinking, we considered that the circular condoned irresponsible consumption of alcohol.
On this point, the circular breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 18.1 (Alcohol).
We noted that the CAP Code required marketing communications not to link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success. We considered that the image on the front of the circular was sexually explicit and the accompanying text "will you swallow", "come and swallow" and "dedicated to oral pleasure" was sexually suggestive. We further considered that the claims on the reverse of the circular "Tequila is where your hottest and sexiest experiences will take place" and "Newcastle ... get ready to be seduced" had sexual connotations. Because these claims and the image appeared in the circular which advertised an event which was heavily linked to alcohol consumption, gave details of drinks prices and was called "Tequila", we considered that there was a link to sexual activity, and the circular gave out the message that drinking alcohol was preliminary to sex or made sexual activity very likely. We also considered that the newspaper quote "a spirit-fuelled den of hedonism and debauchery" condoned reckless and irresponsible sexual behaviour and alcohol consumption. Because of this, we concluded that the circular was irresponsible.
On this point, the circular breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 18.5 (Alcohol).
The circular must not appear again in its current form.