Summary of Council decision:

Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.

Ad description

An ad seen in Viz magazine, promoting an online retailer of T-shirts, showed a young girl wearing a T-shirt and holding a glass of wine in one hand and a cigarette in the other. Text stated "BE A COOL KID - Wear a CharGrilled T-Shirt".


Two complainants challenged whether the ad breached the Code, because it:

1. featured a child who appeared to be smoking and drinking alcohol; and

2. suggested that smoking and drinking could enhance popularity.


1. & 2. CharGrilled Ltd said they did not feel that the ad enhanced the popularity of drinking or smoking, but did accept that the girl pictured appeared to be under the age of 25 and therefore that the ad was in breach of the CAP Code. They said they had taken the image from a stock photo library and had therefore not chosen the specific model that appeared in the ad. They also said they had now withdrawn the ad.

Dennis Publishing Ltd, the publishers of Viz magazine, stated that they had not received any complaints directly from readers, but on reflection considered that the ad should not have run in the magazine. They said as a result of the complaint they were making changes to their internal advertising review processes and would ensure that the same issue did not recur in future.


1. & 2. Upheld

The ASA considered that the girl featured in the ad appeared to be around nine or ten years old, in breach of the CAP Code which stated that people shown drinking or playing a significant role in ads that featured or referred to alcoholic drinks must neither be, nor seem to be, under the age of 25. The Code also stated that marketing communications featuring children must contain nothing that was likely to result in their physical, mental or moral harm, and that children must not be encouraged to copy practices that might be unsafe for a child. We understood that current government advice was that an alcohol-free childhood was the healthiest and best option, but that if children did drink alcohol they should not do so until at least the age of 15 years. We considered that both smoking and drinking alcohol were practices that were likely to result in harm to children. We understood that the text "BE A COOL KID", which was followed by the statement "Wear a CharGrilled T-Shirt", was primarily intended to encourage the wearing of CharGrilled T-shirts. We noted that the child shown in the ad was wearing one such product. However, we were concerned that the use of the text "BE A COOL KID" to accompany an image of a young child apparently smoking and drinking alcohol irresponsibly condoned the actions of that child and suggested that drinking, and also smoking, could lead to increased popularity. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.

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.  (Responsible advertising),  4.5 4.5 Marketing communications, especially those addressed to or depicting a child, must not condone or encourage an unsafe practice (see Section 5: Children).  (Harm and offence),  5.1 5.1 Marketing communications addressed to, targeted directly at or featuring children must contain nothing that is likely to result in their physical, mental or moral harm:  and  5.1.4 5.1.4 children must not be encouraged to copy practices that might be unsafe for a child  (Children) and  18.2 18.2 Marketing communications must not claim or imply that alcohol can enhance confidence or popularity.  and  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 welcomed CharGrilled Ltd's assurance that the ad had been withdrawn. We told them to ensure that their future ads did not feature children appearing to smoke or drink alcohol and did not condone those practices.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

1.3     18.16     18.2     4.5     5.1     5.1.4    

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