A YouTube video by vlogger Spencer FC was headed “ENGLAND VS NETHERLANDS VLOG - International Friendly | #Ad” and included details of a joint sales promotion with Carlsberg to win tickets to a EURO 2016 match England v Russia, along with content where he attended an England friendly match at Wembley. Text underneath the ad stated “To enter England vs Russia tickets giveaway, RT this tweet & follow @carlsbergUK:…”.
The complainant, who believed that Spencer FC’s YouTube channel was popular with people under 18 years of age, challenged whether the ad had been appropriately targeted.
Carlsberg UK Ltd said the video was not directed at people under 18 years of age either through the selection of media or the context in which it appeared. Rather, it was targeted at Spencer FC’s core demographic of football fans aged 18–40. Based on all the available data, they were confident that less than 25% of the audience for Spencer FC’s YouTube channel was aged under 18 and that they had therefore complied with the CAP Code.
Prior to engaging with Spencer FC they obtained the demographic data for his subscriber base (a copy of which they provided), which showed that 85% were over the age of 18. They also provided a range of demographic data from the previous 12 months and the month in which the complaint was received which showed that individuals aged 18 and over consistently comprised at least 84% of Spencer FC’s subscriber base and audience (which was comprised of both subscribed and non-subscribed but logged in users). They believed this approach of obtaining subscriber and user information for the channel complied with the requirements of rule 18.15. It also aligned with industry best practice and guidance, which recommended obtaining “registered user” databases, where (as in this case) syndicated data sources and independent demographic surveys are not available, and using this as evidence of the likely age profile of overall visitors. They were unaware of any facility to locate data on individuals who chose not to log in to view videos on YouTube, and that they had therefore checked all available data. They said the video was not age gated because age gating of individual content was not required by the applicable regulations and did not represent industry practice in this field. They also provided demographic data for three similar football themed YouTube channels, which also had subscriber bases where less than 25% of users were under 18 years of age.
They said the video itself did not contain any irresponsible content. It did not feature consumption of alcohol or reference drinking styles that are unwise or irresponsible. The focus was instead on the EURO tournament. Also, the content did not contain any material that exploited the young, immature or vulnerable, nor was it likely to appeal particularly to people under 18. The two individuals speaking in the video were Spencer and Spencer’s brother, both of who were over 25 and looked over 25.
Spencer FC said that he had shared the demographics for his YouTube channel with Carlsberg prior to undertaking the activity and had provided them with further demographic breakdowns subsequently. His content was targeted at 18–40-year-old male football fans and he did not believe the nature of it would appeal to those under the age of 18. He took care to ensure that his content adhered to all applicable rules.
CAP Code rule 18.15 18.15 Marketing communications must not be directed at people under 18 through the selection of media or the context in which they appear. No medium should be used to advertise alcoholic drinks if more than 25% of its audience is under 18 years of age. required that ads for alcoholic drinks or that featured or referred to alcoholic drinks “must not be directed at people under 18 through the selection of media or the context in which they appear. No medium should be used to advertise alcoholic drinks if more than 25% of its audience is under 18 years of age”. The video advertised a joint promotion with Carlsberg UK, and to participate, viewers had to retweet and follow Carlsberg UK on Twitter. The ad was therefore subject to section 18 of the Code.
The ASA understood that less than 25% of Spencer FC’s registered subscriber base and users who viewed his videos whilst logged in were registered as being under the age of 18. However, it was not possible to know what proportion of his audience generally, or for this specific video, were under the age of 18 because the video could also be watched by unregistered users or users who were not logged in, whose ages were unknown. The nature of YouTube meant that, unlike some other online platforms which required users to be signed in to access the key functionality of the site, many users would not register or log in to watch videos. However, we did not have a basis on which to believe that there would be a significant difference between the demographic profile of users viewing Spencer FC’s videos whilst not logged in and his logged in or subscribed viewers. We considered the advertisers had used the most robust demographic data available to them when determining whether it was appropriate to place the ad on that channel. We also took into account the specific nature of channel, which focused on football and gaming. Although we acknowledged that it would be of appeal to some under 18s we did not consider that it would be of greater appeal to them than those in the target demographic of adult football fans, noting that in general the channel content did not focus on themes likely to be of particular appeal to under 18s, did not feature under 18s (with this promotional video not featuring anyone aged under 25), and were dialogue heavy. Taking into account both the nature of the channel and the demographic data available we concluded that the ad had been appropriately targeted and did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under 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 18.15 18.15 Marketing communications must not be directed at people under 18 through the selection of media or the context in which they appear. No medium should be used to advertise alcoholic drinks if more than 25% of its audience is under 18 years of age. (Alcohol) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.