A posting on the TrocStars' Facebook page promoted a competition. It featured a poster with an image of two women both drinking from large glasses and text which stated "Got yourself drunk at Trocs? Woke up in someone else's bed? Walk of shame? F*ck that it's the stride of pride!". Text next to the poster stated "It's time for the THURSDAY HIJACK!! Like and Share this poster for a chance to win A FREE THURSDAY NIGHT OUT in Trocaderos!".
Balance, North East Alcohol Office, and one other complainant challenged whether the ad was in breach of the Code, because it was offensive, irresponsible and linked alcohol to sexual activity.
Trocaderos South Shields were asked to respond to the complaint. They wished to offer an apology for an advertising strategy which they considered could be misinterpreted. They stated they had also contacted the DrinkAware.co.uk charity with an apology, as they recognised the naivety of their advertising policies. They stated that the ad was removed from Facebook as soon as they had been made aware of the public and authorities' concerns with the ad's content. They stated they had not previously received a complaint and would be taking all steps to ensure they did not again.
They stated that the ad was only released to a very limited community; namely their Facebook audience, which was predominantly 18+. They appreciated that using popular colloquialisms and tongue-in-cheek jokes and quotes was not appropriate. They stated they had not considered the wider implications of using humour in the way it had appeared in the ad. They added that they had responsible drinking in-house policies, such as the strict refusal of service where required.
The ASA welcomed the advertisers' assurance that the ad had been removed and that they took their responsibilities under the advertising Code seriously.
We understood that the content of the TrocStars' Facebook page could be seen by any Facebook users who actively visited the page.
Although the phrase "F*ck that ..." contained an asterisk, we considered that did not obscure the intended meaning and it was still clear that it represented a swear word which would be generally regarded as highly offensive and was unlikely to be acceptable in marketing communications. We considered the language used was gratuitous and that the term "F*ck that ..." was likely to cause serious offence.
We considered that the text "Got yourself drunk at Trocs? Woke up in someone else's bed?", particularly in combination with the image of two women drinking large alcoholic drinks, clearly and irresponsibly linked the excessive consumption of alcohol with sexual activity. We further considered that the term "Walk of shame?!" would be recognised by many consumers as a phrase which referred to returning home after having engaged in sexual activity the previous day and was therefore sexually suggestive and also linked alcohol with sexual activity.
Because the ad used offensive language, encouraged excessive drinking and linked alcohol with sexual activity, we concluded that it was irresponsible and in breach of the advertising Code.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code. (Harm and offence), 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 18.5 18.5 Marketing communications must neither link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success nor imply that alcohol can enhance attractiveness. (Alcohol).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told the advertisers not to use offensive language, encourage excessive drinking or link alcohol with sexual activity.