ASA Adjudication on Diageo Great Britain Ltd
Diageo Great Britain Ltd
15 August 2012
Number of complaints:
JWT (Manchester) Ltd
A TV ad promoted a competition to win VIP passes to a Madonna tour, in association with Smirnoff vodka. The voice-over stated "Last November Smirnoff gave 11 dancers a chance to compete for a spot on Madonna's next tour. Now you can be there too. Get the Smirnoff Limited edition pack and you could win VIP access to Madonna's next tour. Madonna's MDNA, available now everywhere." The ad featured shots of individual dancers followed by scenes from a Madonna performance. There were a number of different shots of Madonna dancing amongst people and on stage. The ad also featured a shot of the limited edition Smirnoff bottle and box, which was accompanied by the text "why let good times go bad, know the facts drinkaware.co.uk". The ad concluded by showing an image of Madonna's new album with the caption "AVAILABLE NOW EVERYWHERE".
The complainant challenged whether the ad was harmful and irresponsible because he believed it would appeal to those under 18 years of age.
Diageo Great Britain Ltd (Diageo) said they did not believe that Madonna had a strong appeal to individuals under the age of 18, and therefore they understood that under 18s were unlikely to follow her example. They stated that Madonna was a 53-year-old performing artist who rose to prominence in the 1980s and that her fan base was predominantly made up of music lovers from the 1980s and 1990s. They provided evidence, which they had commissioned in 2012, that showed that 4.7% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the UK were Madonna fans. Fans were defined as individuals who regularly listened to Madonna's music, had bought or downloaded her music, and who followed her in the press or online. Diageo highlighted that those 12- to 17-year-olds constituted 5.3% of Madonna's total fan base.
Diageo asserted that the ad featured excerpts from a Madonna concert, that the soundtrack was a Madonna track and that the dancers were all clearly over the age of 25. They also said the dancers and the dancing featured in the ad were not of a style or genre that had any particular association with youth culture, and wouldn't have a strong appeal to under 18s. Instead, they stated that all the components of the ad had been selected to complement Madonna and appeal to her older fan-base.
Diageo said the purpose of the ad was to showcase Madonna's new album, and the competition to win tickets to her forthcoming tour. They noted that the text "18+. T&Cs apply" appeared in the ad when the competition was announced and also highlighted that there were only two brief Smirnoff product shots in the ad, and no consumption of the product was depicted. They therefore argued that the ad had limited appeal to under 18s, and did not contain anything which could cause physical, mental, moral or social harm to persons of any age.
Clearcast said they had worked closely with Diageo to ensure the ad adhered to the BCAP Code. While they acknowledged that Madonna was a globally successful pop artist, they felt featuring her in an alcohol advertisement was acceptable on the basis that she had more general appeal, with a large-fan base above the age of 18. Therefore they did not believe she, or the ad, would appeal to younger audiences.
The ASA acknowledged that Madonna was a performing artist that had risen to fame in the 1980s. We understood the longevity of her career, her established celebrity status and her strong media presence. We acknowledged that as well as still being active in the music industry and collaborating with a number of younger artists, she was also involved in the film industry and had launched two fashion labels. We noted, however, Diageo's research which showed that 4.7% of 12- to 17-year-olds in the UK were defined as Madonna fans, as they regularly listened to her music, had previously bought or downloaded her music, and followed her in the press or online.
We considered that the ad had been designed with Madonna's older fan base in mind and that the shots of the concert, the dancers and the Madonna soundtrack used, would not have particular resonance with younger audiences. We noted that the ad did not feature any individuals that appeared to be below the age of 25 and that no alcohol was consumed. We therefore concluded that the ad was not targeted at, or likely to appeal to, those under the age of 18.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 4.1 (Harm and offence) and, 19.15.1 and 19.15.2 (Rules that apply to alcohol advertisements) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.