Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all of which were Upheld.
A flyer, a website, a Facebook post and a YouTube video for BarHopping UK:
a. The flyer, seen on 16 August 2016, contained text that stated “1 NIGHT 3 BARS + 1 CLUB … Unlimited Pizza AND FREE Shots at the first bar”. The flyer also featured an image of a young woman eating pizza and another image of a group of young people on a night out.
b. The post on BarHopping UK’s Facebook page, dated 1 October 2016, stated “Did we mention is [sic] FREE shots and UNLIMITED pizza? Don’t miss out on this unique pubcrawl” and featured a photograph of a group of people on a night out and each holding a shot.
c. The website www.barhoppinguk.com, seen on 16 August 2016. The home page contained text that stated “BAR 1 UNLIMITED PIZZA FREE SHOTS BAR 2 WELCOME SHOT DISCOUNT DRINKS BAR 3 WELCOME SHOT DISCOUNT DRINKS 1 CLUB WELCOME SHOT FREE ENTRANCE ONE NIGHT 3 BARS + 1 CLUB ALL INCLUSIVE FROM 12 GBP … UNLIMITED PIZZAS & FREE SHOTS IN THE FIRST BAR”. The home page also contained an image of a group of friends on a night out and another image of a young woman drinking a shot.
The home page also featured an embedded YouTube video which included on-screen text that stated “ONE NIGHT 3 BARS + 1 CLUB”, “FREE PIZZA IN THE FIRST BAR”, “FREE SHOTS IN FIRST BAR”. The video also featured a number of scenes showing different people during the night out, dancing and drinking. The video also featured other scenes showing a number of young women, with their heads tilted back, having a drink poured into their mouths directly from bottles.
Fosterwood Ltd t/a 1 Big Night Out challenged whether:
1. ads (a), (b) and (c) encouraged excessive drinking; and
2. the YouTube ad (c), particularly the scenes which showed alcohol being poured into the women’s mouths, featured alcohol being handled or served irresponsibly.
3. The ASA challenged whether ads (a), (b) and (c) featured people who appeared to be under 25 years of age.
1. & 2. BarHopping said ads (a), (b) and (c) communicated what the customers would receive at each bar during the tour. They stated that they had intended to place the emphasis of the promotion on the unlimited pizza aspect which their competitors did not offer, with the offer of free shots as an extra element of the tour. They stated that they were willing to make changes.
They explained that they tried to show the different elements of the tour in the embedded YouTube video in ad (c), for example, the unlimited pizza, walking tour, alcohol shots, dancing, and big groups of people. They explained that the video contained footages taken from night outs organised by their company in Argentina, as well as those from nights out in London. They said that they intended to remove some scenes so that the video placed less focus on the drinking promotion, while focusing on the free pizza and shots, free entrance and drinks discounts elements of their tours.
3. Barhopping said the woman featured in ad (a), who was eating pizza rather than drinking, was over 25 years old, and the group of young people featured in the same ad were a group of friends known to them. They further stated that the image in ad (b) showed a group of people holding a shot glass each, but not drinking. They did not provide any comments on that point in respect of ad (c).
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA noted that ad (a) stated “unlimited pizza and free shots at the first bar”, which we considered could be understood to mean that customers would also receive unlimited free shots, as well as unlimited pizza in the first bar of the BarHopping tour. Ad (a) also stated “1 NIGHT 3 BARS + 1 CLUB”, which we considered implied that there would be more alcohol available to be consumed at the other venues during the night out, in addition to the free shots at the first bar.
We noted that ad (b) contained text that stated “Did we mention is [sic] FREE Shots and UNLIMITED pizza? Don’t miss out on this unique pubcrawl”. We considered that given the emphasis on “FREE shots” and the unspecified quantity, particularly within the context of a bar or pub crawl, it was likely to create an expectation that customers would receive multiple free shots and therefore large amounts of alcohol would be consumed.
In relation to the web page in ad (c), we considered that the references to “free shots” in the first bar, in combination with the references to a “welcome shot” and “discount drinks” at each venue on the tour, were likely to give an impression that a large quantity of alcohol would be provided in the course of the evening. We further considered the references “You’ve been on a pub crawl before, but have you been on anything like this?” and “Experience the best Pub Crawl in London” which were also stated on the website, further reinforced that impression.
Further, we noted that the embedded YouTube video in ad (c) showed various footage of a typical night out organised by BarHopping. The video featured multiple scenes of people having alcohol being poured into their mouths directly from the bottle by bar staff, which we considered amounted to alcohol being served irresponsibly. The video also showed a number of successive scenes depicting groups of people drinking shots, interspersed with scenes showing numerous shots being served. We considered that the ad implied that an abundance of alcohol was being consumed within a short period of time.
We considered that, for reasons mentioned above, ads (a), (b) and (c) gave the impression that large quantities of alcohol would be consumed during a short space of time, and therefore encouraged excessive drinking. Further, we considered that the scenes showing customers having alcohol poured directly into their mouths in ad (a) featured alcohol being served irresponsibly. On that basis, we considered that the ads were irresponsible and likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise, and concluded they breached the Code.
On those points, the ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 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 18.11 18.11 Marketing communications must not feature alcohol being handled or served irresponsibly. (Alcohol).
The CAP Code required that marketing communications which referred to alcoholic drinks should not show people who were, or appeared to be, under 25 years of age drinking or playing a significant role.
We noted that some of the people featured in the ads were not shown to be drinking, while others featured were shown to be holding bottles of beer or shots, and some were shown to be drinking shots. In any event, we noted that all of them were featured prominently to show the experiences of customers on those tours, and considered that they all played a significant role in the ads. We had not seen evidence that any of those people featured were 25 years old or over. We further considered that most of them looked like they were under 25, and appeared to be young students on nights out, given their youthful features, the manner in which they dressed and juvenile expressions and gestures. For those reasons, we concluded the ads breached the Code.
On that point, the ads 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).
The ads must not appear in their current forms again. We told BarHopping UK to ensure that their ads were socially responsible and contained nothing that was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise, for example, by encouraging excessive drinking. We also told them to ensure their ads did not feature alcohol being handled or served irresponsibly, and not to feature people who were, or appeared to be, under 25 years of age drinking or in a significant role.