Summary of Council decision:
Four issues were investigated, of which three were Upheld and one was Not upheld.
The Facebook page for WKD showed various ads:
a. A post featured an image which stated "WKD 8 BALL Weekend Prediction YOU WILL REFUSE TO DO KARAOKE. AT FIRST" and showed a bottle of WKD.
b. Information in the advertiser's "About" section stated "Where there's good times, there's WKD. We're all about getting together with the best people and enjoying yourself - especially at the weekend. Like us and get involved!".
c. A post stated "HAIRCUT? [tick] WKD? [tick] UGLY MATE TO MAKE YOU LOOK BETTER? [tick] Have you got a WKD side?" and showed a bottle of WKD.
d. Three images showed a cartoon character dressed in a suit and tie and a hat which stated "HEAD OF WKD WEEKENDS" across the top. The first was used as the background photo for the Facebook page. The second was used alongside the text "DON'T MESS WITH CATHERINE WHEELS. HER BOYFRIEND'S MASSIVE". The third was used alongside the text "REMEMBER, REMEMBER, THE 5TH OF NOVEMBER. IS BIN DAY".
The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council challenged whether the ads were irresponsible, because:
1. Ad (a) implied that alcohol could enhance confidence;
2. Ad (a) suggested that alcohol was capable of changing mood and behaviour;
3. Ads (a), (b) and (c) suggested that alcohol was a key component of the success of a social event; and
4. Ads (c) and (d) were likely to appeal to under 18-year-olds and youth culture.
1. ‒ 4. Beverage Brands (UK) Ltd said they intended to comply with all industry codes and had developed their own responsible drinking campaign as well as running regular responsibility training for staff and external agencies. They said their Facebook page was accessible only to those registered with Facebook with a date of birth that meant they were over 18 and it was one of their most targeted consumer communications.
They said ad (a) was part of a series of 'predictions', which pointed out truisms such as that many people refuse to do karaoke until others had had a go. They said no reference was made to alcohol playing a part in that, or to alcohol being consumed, and that was not the intended meaning. Beverage Brands said the ad was a one-off however they were prepared to remove it from their Facebook timeline.
They said ad (b) was intended to replicate the 'friend' relationship that consumers expected from brands on Facebook and "good times" referred to that. It encouraged consumers to have a good time by joining conversations and being involved on Facebook, not by drinking alcohol, and referred to getting together with the "best people" as a reflection of that virtual online community. While they believed the ad did not breach the Code, Beverage Brands said they were willing to make changes to it.
Beverage Brands said the checklist in ad (c) was intended to be humorous, but accepted on reflection that it might have been prudent not to have included the brand name in that list. However, the ad did not claim that the elements listed led to success, only that they were part of a night out. They believed the ad was not likely to appeal to under-18s, because while the tone was humorous it was not juvenile or one that a child could relate to. They said they were prepared to remove ad (c) from their Facebook page.
In relation to ad (d), Beverage Brands said the images were not cartoons but photographs of a real person wearing an oversized head, which was made to look as realistic as possible. They provided a series of images from that photo shoot and said the head was oversized as a play on the title "HEAD OF WKD WEEKENDS". They said his dress was adult and there was intentionally no relation or similarity to characters that might appeal to those under 18. The character was not seen consuming alcohol and there was no reference to consumption in those ads.
Beverage Brands said the reference to Catherine wheels was intended to be humorous to adults who would understand the difficulties with them in a way that under-18s, who were not allowed to buy fireworks, would not. Similarly, "BIN DAY" was directed primarily at homeowners, who were likely to be over 18. They considered the references were not juvenile in tone and were very clearly aimed at adults. Again, the ad appeared only on Facebook and therefore should not be available to view by under-18s.
On points 1 to 4, Facebook said the ads did not breach their guidelines.
1. & 2. Upheld
The ASA acknowledged Beverage Brand's willingness to make changes and that ad (a) did not show alcohol being consumed. However, we considered it was clearly an ad for a brand of alcoholic drink and noted that a bottle of WKD was prominently shown. We considered British consumers were likely to understand karaoke to be an activity that often took place after alcohol had been consumed and that, in some instances, reluctance to participate might be lessened after drinking alcohol. We considered that, particularly in the context of an ad for an alcoholic drink, the text "YOU WILL REFUSE TO DO KARAOKE. AT FIRST" was likely to be interpreted as suggesting that alcohol could enhance confidence and was also capable of changing mood and behaviour. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
On these points, ad (a) 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 18.2 18.2 Marketing communications must not claim or imply that alcohol can enhance confidence or popularity. and 18.7 18.7 Marketing communications must not imply that alcohol has therapeutic qualities. Alcohol must not be portrayed as capable of changing mood, physical condition or behaviour or as a source of nourishment. Marketing communications must not imply that alcohol can enhance mental or physical capabilities; for example, by contributing to professional or sporting achievements. (Alcohol).
We considered ad (a) was likely to be interpreted to mean that those at a social occasion involving karaoke would be willing to participate only once they had consumed alcohol. We therefore considered it implied that alcohol was a key component of the success of that occasion.
We noted ad (b) included general references to the weekend and to socialising with friends. However, we considered the text "Where there's good times, there's WKD", which also appeared under the image of a man in a hat labelled "HEAD OF WKD WEEKENDS" and images of the products, was likely to be understood to mean that successful weekends involved the alcoholic drink WKD. We therefore considered it implied that alcohol was a key component of the success of social occasions.
We noted ad (c) presented a checklist, which showed elements that related to a social occasion next to ticks. We considered the ad would be understood to mean that WKD, the alcoholic drink referred to in the list and also shown prominently in the accompanying image, was an important element of the social occasion in question. We therefore considered ad (c) also implied alcohol was a key component of the success of a social occasion.
For the reasons given, we concluded that the ads breached the Code.
On this point, ads (a), (b) and (c) 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 18.3 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).
4. Not upheld
We considered ad (c), by referring to an "UGLY MATE TO MAKE YOU LOOK BETTER", could be seen as a reflection of an immature mentality in those interested in meeting members of the opposite sex on a night out. However, we considered the ad, which was available to view only by those aged over 18, was not likely to have particular appeal to under-18s by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.
We noted ad (d), which was also available to view only by those over 18, showed brightly coloured drinks, lights and fireworks, and that the use of cartoons in general could appeal to children. We considered the image of a male character in a suit, and wearing dark sunglasses and a hat, although cartoon-like in appearance, was also not such that it was likely to have particular appeal to under-18s. We also considered the overall impression of the ad, while light hearted and colourful, was such that it was clearly intended to appeal to those interested in adult social occasions, rather than having particular appeal to under-18s.
On this point, we investigated ads (c) and (d) under 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 18.14 18.14 Marketing communications must not be likely to appeal particularly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. They should not feature or portray real or fictitious characters who are likely to appeal particularly to people under 18 in a way that might encourage the young to drink. People shown drinking or playing a significant role (see rule 18.16) should not be shown behaving in an adolescent or juvenile manner. (Alcohol), but did not find them in breach.
Ads (a), (b) and (c) must not appear again in their current form. We told Beverage Brands (UK) Ltd to ensure their future advertising did not imply alcohol could enhance confidence, was integral to the success of a social event, or was capable of changing mood or behaviour.