A TV ad for Baileys, aired in November 2015, featured various groups of women walking together to different bars, where they each enjoyed a glass of Baileys. On-screen text stated “IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS WITHOUT YOU … BAILEYS”.
Alcohol Concern challenged whether the claim “IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS WITHOUT YOU” was irresponsible and implied that the success of a social occasion depended on the presence or consumption of alcohol.
Diageo Great Britain Ltd t/a Baileys said Baileys was a brand traditionally associated with the Christmas season, which was illustrated by the fact that for the past three years, 60% of all sales of Baileys in Great Britain had been made during the October to December period. They said the claim “IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS WITHOUT YOU” in the ad referred to Christmas being a time of tradition and family, which wasn't the same without celebrating with friends and loved ones.
They believed that there was a significant difference between referring to a link that existed between a drink such as Baileys and a seasonal time like Christmas, and suggesting that drinking alcohol was a key component to the success of a social occasion. Firstly, they said "Christmas" was likely to be interpreted by consumers as a reference to the whole festive season, rather than to a specific social event or occasion. Secondly, consumers were likely to interpret the claim "it’s not Christmas" as suggesting that Baileys was one aspect of a traditional Christmas, given the product's long-standing association with it, rather than the reason for its 'success'.
In addition, they said the ad did not make any references to excessive drinking, neither did it suggest that a party or specific social occasion would be a success as a result of drinking alcohol, nor that the product played a major part in socialising.
Clearcast said they had considered whether the line "IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS WITHOUT YOU" implied drinking alcohol was a key component of the success of a social event, but had concluded that it did not, rather that Baileys was a beverage associated with Christmastime in general.
They said the ad in no way implied that a social occasion was not a success without drinking Baileys, or that it was a major component, nor did it suggest excessive drinking. They did not believe the ad was irresponsible or suggested that the success of an occasion depended on drinking Baileys.
The ASA understood that the BCAP Code prohibited ads from implying that drinking alcohol was a key component of social success or that the success of a social occasion depended on the presence or consumption of alcohol.
We considered that "Christmas" was likely to be interpreted, in the context of the ad, as a reference to the season, rather than to a specific social occasion. We considered that consumers would interpret the claim "IT’S NOT CHRISTMAS WITHOUT YOU" as a play on words referring to getting together with friends over the festive period, as well as referring to the fact that the drink had been traditionally associated with the Christmas period.
We noted that the ad showed the women enjoying one drink together, and there was no suggestion that the individual social occasions were dependent on Baileys in order to be successful. Rather, the women appeared to be laughing and enjoying each other's company from the beginning of the ad before they had arrived at the bars or had been served any Baileys.
We considered that consumers were unlikely to interpret the ad as implying that Christmas was a social occasion, the success of which would depend on the presence or consumption of Baileys. Furthermore, we considered that the ad was unlikely to be seen as irresponsible. For those reasons, we concluded that the ad had not breached the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Responsible advertising) and 19.4 19.4 Advertisements must not imply that drinking alcohol is a key component of social success or acceptance or that refusal is a sign of weakness. Advertisements must not imply that the success of a social occasion depends on the presence or consumption of alcohol. (Alcohol), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.