A blog post on the website www.fireballuk.com, headlined "WHAT UCAS DOESN'T TELL FRESHERS", included the text "Fireball makes friends - Last but by no means least, if you take anything away with you from this blog then remember this: Fireball makes friends. I take it to every student affair I attend and it's always the talk of the party. The guests love you because you've brought a bottle and it's thoroughly entertaining to watch the macho boys down it like it's water, only to realise that when we say 'hot as hell', we mean it!".
The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council challenged whether the ad was irresponsible, because they believed it encouraged excessive drinking and styles of drinking that were unwise as well as that it implied that alcohol was a key component of the success of social events.
Hi Spirits said, before April 2013 they had not been aware that the CAP Code could apply to content created by members of the public, rather than by Hi Sprits. They said they initiated new procedures when they became aware of that and while that was a large task, they made it a priority and sought to complete an audit of their website and social media pages as soon as possible. They said it was regrettable that a complaint had been received. However the ad, which was also created by an individual, had been removed before the ASA contacted them. Hi Spirits said they were committed to promoting responsible consumption of their products and had suspended activity on their social media pages until they could review their current approach. They said they had also deleted the entire blog and were now seeking the input of the CAP Copy Advice team on a regular basis.
The ASA acknowledged Hi Spirits were willing to amend their advertising. We noted, however, the blog post, included the text "Fireball makes friends. I take it to every student affair I attend and it's always the talk of the party. The guests love you because you've brought a bottle and it's thoroughly entertaining to watch the macho boys down it like it's water". We considered that by referring to 'downing' the spirit "like it's water", to the writer's popularity being enhanced by 'bringing a bottle' of Fireball, which made friends and caused the guests to "love you", and to the drink being the "talk of the party", the ad encouraged excessive drinking and styles of drinking that were unwise, as well as implying that alcohol was a key component of the success of the social event. 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) 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. 18.2 18.2 Marketing communications must not claim or imply that alcohol can enhance confidence or popularity. and 18.3 18.3 Marketing communications must not imply that drinking alcohol is a key component of the success of a personal relationship or social event. The consumption of alcohol may be portrayed as sociable or thirst-quenching. (Alcohol).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Hi Spirits to ensure their future advertising did not encourage excessive drinking or styles of drinking that were unwise. We also told them to ensure their ads did not imply alcohol was a key component of the success of social events in future.