Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were invested, both were Upheld.
Claims on www.365pubcrawl.com stated "1 Massive night out. All for only £10!. 365 Pub Crawl. We run one of London's biggest pub crawls EVERYDAY !!! ...Your ticket includes: Free entry into five venues, Five free shots/drinks, Discounted drinks all night". The website included a number of images of people photographed on previous pub crawls.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the images breached the Code because the people shown appeared to be under 25; and
2. the ad was socially irresponsible because it could encourage excessive drinking.
1. 365 Tours Ltd (365 Tours) said they did not sell or serve alcohol but rather that they visited establishments which sold alcohol. They said the point of the tour was not to get drunk but to visit and experience London's West End by night. They added that those on the pub crawl drank alcohol at their discretion. Therefore, they did not believe section 18 of the CAP Code (Edition 12) applied to their advertising.
2. 365 Tours said their website and marketing photographs depicted a fun evening with people smiling and laughing. They said there were no images of people consuming, holding or buying alcohol or behaving in a manner that would lead people to conclude they were drunk. In addition, they said there were no images of antisocial, adolescent, juvenile or lewd behaviour.
365 Tours said they advertised their pub crawl as a nightly tour of London's West End which included a simple description of what consumers were entitled to when they bought a ticket from them. They did not encourage excessive drinking either through their website nor was that implied through their images. They added that their terms and conditions urged those on the pub crawl to drink responsibly and at their discretion.
365 Tours said the free shot was 25 ml in total which consisted of a half measure of either vodka, gin or sambuca mixed with fruit juice, strawberry or lime cordial and the alcohol content of the drink was around 20% Alcohol by Volume (ABV). They said that equated to a 0.5 unit of alcohol and therefore, consumers who chose to drink alcohol on the tour would consume a total of 2.5 alcohol units from those free drinks. They said the discounted drinks were a 330 ml bottle of Becks or Stella and a 275 ml bottle of Carlsberg or a 25 ml spirit measure (vodka, gin or sambuca) mixed with fruit juice, strawberry or lime cordial. Those on the tour only received one complimentary shot at each venue, could only buy one discounted drink at a time and spent approximately 50 minutes in each venue.
The ASA noted 365 Tours believed that section 18 (Alcohol) of the Code did not apply to their marketing because they did not sell or serve alcohol on the tour. However, the Code applied when marketing communications featured or referred to alcoholic drinks, which were defined as drinks containing at least 0.5% alcohol. The ad referred to "five free shots" which we considered consumers would interpret to mean a shot of alcohol, such as vodka, especially when used in conjunction with the advertiser's name "365pubcrawl" which was synonymous with drinking alcohol. Because the website would be seen as referring to alcohol, we considered the claims and images were subject to that section of the Code.
We understood that the photos were mostly of people before they set off on the pub crawl. We considered that in appearing in the photographs, they played a significant role in the ad and therefore, the Code required them to be neither under 25 or seem to be under 25 years of age. 365 Pub Crawl's terms and conditions stated that only over 18s could participate but we had not seen any information which demonstrated that those in the photographs were also over 25. We considered that a number of the people shown appeared to be under 25 and as we considered they were playing a significant role in the ad, we concluded the ad breached the Code.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 18.16 18.16 People shown drinking or playing a significant role must neither be nor seem to be under 25. People under 25 may be shown in marketing communications, for example, in the context of family celebrations, but must be obviously not drinking. (Alcohol).
We understood that those on the tour were entitled to entry into five venues over the course of the evening, a free shot or soft drink and discounted drinks all night in each of the venues. We noted that the website described the tour as "... one of London's biggest pub crawls" and in the headline as "London's biggest pub crawl" and "1 Massive night out. All for only £10!"
We acknowledged that the tour offered an alternative to the free shot and that there may be some people on the tour who chose not to drink alcohol. However, we considered there would be a number of those who would. The number of units of alcohol in a drink was dependent on the drink's strength and its size and we understood from 365 Tours that each free shot contained a 0.5 unit of alcohol. Therefore, those on the tour choosing to drink alcohol had the option of choosing five alcoholic free drinks and buying discounted alcoholic drinks all night. The CAP Code required marketing communications to be socially responsible and contain nothing that was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise and not to encourage excessive drinking. Because of the large amount of alcohol which could be drunk on the tour, and because we considered that the language of the ad condoned an approach of excessive or immoderate drinking, we considered the ad could encourage excessive drinking and was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise. We therefore concluded the ad was socially irresponsible.
On this point, the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society. (Social responsibility) and 18.1 18.1 Marketing communications must be socially responsible and must contain nothing that is likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that are unwise. For example, they should not encourage excessive drinking. Care should be taken not to exploit the young, the immature or those who are mentally or socially vulnerable. (Alcohol).
The ad must no longer appear. We told 365 Pub Crawl to ensure those playing a significant role in its advertising must not be or must not seem to be under 25 years of age. We advised them not to use images of people if they could not clarify the ages of those featured. We told them not to promote their tour in a way which was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise.