The website www.urbanoutfitters.co.uk featured a hip flask. The website stated "F**k My Liver Hip Flask ... Drink like the rebel you are with this F**K My Liver printed hip flask". Text on the hip flask stated "FUCK MY LIVER".
The complainant challenged whether the website was irresponsible because it could encourage excessive drinking.
URBN UK Ltd t/a Urban Outfitters said it was their intention to produce a funny and light-hearted ad to attract the attention of consumers that reflected their 'street style' attitude. They said they did not encourage drinking and that they did not sell alcoholic beverages. Urban Outfitters said the phrases "fuck my liver" and "drink like the rebel you are" were meant to represent an attitude of disregard for others' beliefs and the phrases were meant to be taken as light-hearted statements that portrayed a rebellious attitude that disregarded healthy living and as such, were not meant to be taken seriously. They said "Fuck my liver" could be interpreted in numerous different ways related to unhealthy living and did not necessarily relate to alcohol. They said that phrase was frequently used as a song title, included in song lyrics and was also a fashionable phrase commonly used by their customers and featured on clothing and related products. They said the phrase was intended to encourage sales of the hip flask and was not intended to encourage drinking of alcohol.
Urban Outfitters said that "Drink like the rebel you are" could be interpreted in a number of different ways. They said a rebel was a person who stood up for their own personal opinions despite what others thought. They said to drink like a rebel was to drink as a person wished and that related to drinking a lot or a little.
They said that the ad had not portrayed drinking as a challenge and that "Fuck my liver" portrayed a disregard for one's health and the phrase "Drink like the rebel you are" encouraged consumers to drink what they liked.
The ASA considered the advertiser's assertion that the two phrases represented an attitude of disregard and that "Fuck my liver" did not necessarily relate to alcohol consumption. However, we considered that the strong link with the product's purpose and the reference to "liver" would be interpreted as a direct reference to alcohol consumption. We considered that the phrase "Fuck my liver" was a message to actively disregard well-known advice about the negative effects of alcohol on the liver.
We also considered that the word 'rebels' was, due to popular culture, likely to be seen as a reference to those who rejected normal conventions and were likely to take activities to an extreme. We therefore considered that in the context of a product for consuming alcohol, the phrase "Drink like the rebel you are" was likely to be seen as a direct encouragement to consume excessive amounts of alcohol, portraying drinking alcohol as a challenge.
Because Urban Outfitters advertised a product directly linked with the consumption of alcohol in a way that was likely to encourage excessive drinking, we concluded it was irresponsible and therefore 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), 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. and 18.4 18.4 Drinking alcohol must not be portrayed as a challenge. Marketing communications must neither show, imply, encourage or refer to aggression or unruly, irresponsible or anti-social behaviour nor link alcohol with brave, tough or daring people or behaviour. (Alcohol).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told URBN UK Ltd t/a Urban Outfitters not to use words or phrases which were irresponsible, encouraged excessive drinking or portrayed drinking alcohol as a challenge.