Love drunk or drunk in love?

With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, many people will be looking forward to sharing a romantic tipple with the apple of their eye, but marketers should be aware of the potential pitfalls of mixing alcohol and romance in their ads if they don’t want the heartbreak of a nasty post-publication hangover.

Marketing communications must neither link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success nor imply that alcohol can enhance attractiveness, and must not imply that drinking alcohol is a key component of the success of a personal relationship or social event.

One thing leads to another

Suggesting that ingesting alcohol is likely to result in consumers getting lucky, or performing better between the sheets, is likely to be a problem. The ASA has upheld complaints about ads which implied that drunk girls are more promiscuous and claims that alcohol could help drinkers unleash their wild side are likely to be similarly problematic.

What’s in a name?

Indulging in some saucy innuendo might feel irresistible if your product's name lends itself to that, but jokes that are too saucy are a bad match.  For example, the ASA upheld complaints about an ad for an Australian wine which invited consumers to taste the bush.

Leave something to the imagination

Sexually provocative imagery is likely to be problematic even if no further reference is made to the relationship between alcohol and sex. However, marketers should also be careful when featuring alcohol in more subtly seductive scenes.

Forbidden love?

Not all flirtatious interactions between men and women are likely to breach the Code. The ASA has rejected complaints about alcohol ads which featured a couple dancing and in cases where a romantic attachment is forming, but alcohol did not appear to have played a significant part. Marketers should, however, take care around the use of romantic themes.

For further advice, see our AdviceOnline entry here.  If you aren’t sure whether your ad and the CAP Code are a match made in heaven, you can contact CAP’s Copy Advice team here.

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