Clubbing and the CAP Code – If you’re not compliant you’re not coming in

Nightclub event promotion has come a long way since the days when fly posters and leaflets dominated the advertising landscape.  Thanks to digital media there is now a broader range of ways to promote an event than ever before.  With sensitive themes including alcohol and sex as well as considerations around responsible targeting, it’s important that advertisers take care to abide by the advertising rules with their event promotion. Here are some of the main things to bear in mind.

Remember that social media is covered by the rules

If material appears on a page which serves the purpose of promoting an event, it’s likely to be subject to the rules.  With a dynamic platform like Facebook for example, this includes advertising through paid sponsored posts, posts from a nightclub’s page, an event page, a promoter’s page and, as the ASA has ruled, even a nightclub promoter’s personal page if it is primarily used for the purpose of promoting their events.

Take care when featuring alcohol

Excessive consumption and responsible handling of alcohol are two areas where the ASA takes a firm line.  Although it’s acceptable for events to advertise promotions on alcohol, they should not emphasise getting drunk  or drinking to excess.  Ads should also not depict improper handling of alcohol, for example showing alcohol being poured into customer’s mouths from a bottle.

Never mix sex and alcohol

The advertising rules prohibit the linking of alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success so ads that feature alcohol should avoid sexualised imagery (which also has the potential to cause offence).  An image of champagne splashing onto a woman’s face in a manner the ASA considered to be emulating pornography – in no small part due to the accompanying text “nice artwork… leaving to the imagination whats [sic] out of shot!” – was found to be problematic.  As well as showing irresponsible handling of alcohol and linking alcohol with sexual activity, both of which go against the alcohol rules, it was ruled to be offensive because it was gratuitous and objectified women.  Similarly, an ad featuring a woman in her underwear with stickers on her breasts alongside the text “A NIGHT OF FILTH & FIRE! ... LIVE FIRE & STRIP SHOW! SEXY WET & WILD BAR SHOW” in conjunction with the night’s cheap drink prices was judged to break the rules

Keep your promotions responsible

It’s up to the promoter to ensure that their alcohol promotions are responsible. For example, alcohol promotions should not appear in a medium if 25% or more of the audience is under 18 and promoters are expected to hold evidence that this is not the case. Particular care should be taken when using social media where a “like and share” competition model, without additional age-gating, could make it impossible for the promoter to provide the ASA with the evidence needed.

Don’t forget that there are legal restrictions on alcohol promotions in Scotland, for more see here.

For more information about alcohol marketing have a browse through our online resource library and if you’d like bespoke advice on how your non-broadcast advertising measures up, feel free to submit an enquiry to our Copy Advice team.


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