Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Upheld.
A Snapchat lens advertising Captain Morgan, seen in June 2017, included a cartoon icon of a pirate. The lens, which made the user’s face look like Captain Morgan, featured two glasses of a mixed alcoholic drink clinking together on screen, a seagull that flew a scroll on to the screen, which said “Live like the Captain”, a voice-over that said “Captain” and the sound of people cheering.
The ASA challenged whether the lense was:
1. of particular appeal to people under 18; and
2. directed at people under 18.
1. & 2. Diageo Great Britain Ltd t/a Captain Morgan said that the image of Captain Morgan, which appeared in the Snapchat lens, was consistent with the brand trade mark and packaging that depicted a historical buccaneer in traditional seventeenth century attire. They said they did not use bright, loud or artificial colours that would be of particular appeal to people under the age of 18. Further, the Captain Morgan lens aimed to depict a real life seventeenth century buccaneer and was complemented with the use of toasting tankards and the scroll, highlighting the era and ambience which a Snapchat user could create. The lens was intended to be light-hearted with no comedic movement of the face.
Further, Captain Morgan said that they ensured all marketing communications which appeared on social media platforms only appeared on those where a minimum of 75% of the audience were aged 18 years and above. Demographic data provided to Captain Morgan by Snap Inc showed that in 2016, 77% of UK Snapchat users were registered as aged 18 years or over. The Captain Morgan lens used age-gated targeting to ensure that the lens was only delivered to users with a registered age of 18 years and over. The lens was neither directed at nor made available in the lens carousel to users under the age of 18.
Snap Inc said in the UK they only directed alcohol advertising to users who provided a date of birth which showed them to be over 18 and that at the time the lens ran, they could only target lenses by age and geolocation. Further they said that they were confident in the reliability and sufficiency of the ages supplied to them during the sign-up process. They provided first- and third-party data evidencing the reliability of those supplied ages to effect robust age targeting. They provided data which evidenced that the practical impact of targeting using interest-based factors rather than those supplied ages would be limited. They also provided confidential data relating to the breakdown of their UK audience by age group. They said they had since launched Audience Lenses, which could be targeted to a specific audience using demographics like age and gender, as well as to users identified as falling into one of Snapchat’s “Lifestyle Categories” based on the user’s interests as demonstrated by activity in other sections in the app.
CAP Code rule 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. required that alcohol ads were not likely to appeal particularly to under 18s. We noted that the lens icon which appeared in the Snapchat user’s carousel was of a cartoon pirate and that in order to use the lens the user would need to click the icon. We considered that the icon was a bright, child-like cartoon image which we noted was similar in style to the other icons for non-paid for Snapchat lenses. In that context, we considered that the icon image of a cartoon pirate was of particular appeal to under 18s.
The lens, which appeared when the icon was scrolled onto, presented the user with an augmented reality which manipulated their environment. That included the user’s face appearing like Captain Morgan, a seagull flying across the screen with a scroll which read “Live like the Captain” and two glasses which clinked in front of the user’s face. Further, the lens was accompanied by a male voice which said “Captain? Captain!” with further animated high-pitched voices cheering and repeating the word Captain. We noted that the lens did not, however, use particularly bright colours, but it did age and add a beard to the user’s face which we considered was of comedic effect. Taken together with the lens icon, we considered that the specific interactive and augmented elements of the lens, such as the user’s face being made to look like a buccaneer, the clinking glasses, references to “Captain” and the cheering, were likely to appeal particularly to those under 18.
We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
On that point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 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).
The CAP Code required that marketing communications for 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 was under 18 years of age.
The lens was delivered directly to users who were logged into accounts with a registered age of 18 or older, and who were in certain locations. Because the ad was targeted at a defined set of users, we did not consider it relevant that less than 25% of the total platform audience was under 18. We therefore considered whether the ad had been directed at people under 18 through the selection of media (i.e. the Snapchat lens).
We understood that at the time the lens ran Snap Inc. were only able to target lenses by a user’s age group and geolocation. We understood that Captain Morgan had chosen for the lens to target users who were registered as being over 18 and in the UK. Snap Inc. shared confidential data with us about their UK audience. From their response, we understood that a significant minority of UK based Snapchat users were registered as being between 13 and 17 years old and that they represented one of the largest groups of their total UK audience. We also noted separately that research undertaken by Ofcom showed that out of a group of 343 of those aged 12–15 years who had reported that they had a social media account, the proportion who said they had a Snapchat account increased from 51% in 2016 to 58% in 2017. We also noted that a large number of the total population of 13- to 17-year olds in the UK had Snapchat accounts. From the above, we considered that Snapchat was popular amongst younger audiences.
We understood that the minimum age for a person to have an account with Snapchat was 13. Research undertaken by Ofcom in 2016 showed that out of a group of 104 of those aged 8–11 years who had social media accounts, 34% had Snapchat profiles. The 2017 Ofcom report stated that in the group of test subjects there were too few social media users aged 3–11years old to report on individual sites in detail. The data in the 2016 report did not give any indication of the age those users claimed to be when they signed up, including whether they were registered as 18 or over and therefore would have been able to access the lens through their account. We considered that the report was indicative that at least some of the audience of children on Snapchat were younger than the minimum age of 13 years old. We considered that this called into question the adequacy of self-reported age as the sole means of targeting alcohol advertising on Snapchat.
We noted that Snap Inc. had reported that it now had the means to target ads to specific audiences using “Audience Lenses”, including by way of inferring the audience age using interest based factors. However, at the time the lens ran, the only targeting data available to Diageo on Snapchat was unverified supplied ages collected when users signed up and geolocation information. We considered that because the platform was popular with under 18s, that was not sufficient to ensure that marketing communications were not targeted at people under 18. We therefore concluded that through the selection of media, Captain Morgan had not taken sufficient care to ensure that the ad was not directed at people under 18 and therefore the ad breached the Code.
On that point the ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) 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. (Alcohol).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Captain Morgan to ensure their ads were appropriately targeted in the future and that they were not of particular appeal to under 18s.