A video ad on the online drinks retailer 31Dover.com's website and on Youtube, seen in February 2017, opened on a blurred background and title text "The Karma Shotra" appeared. Bar paraphernalia including glasses, bottles and a variety of alcohol products were then shown with doodle drawings such as arms and faces overlaid on them. These characters were shown smiling and touching each other in a sexual manner. Subtitles appeared throughout such as "The Cork Screw" and "The Rim Job", each followed by the characters engaging in sexual activity.
Two complainants, who believed the ad strongly linked alcohol to seduction, sexual activity and sexual success, objected that the ad was socially irresponsible and breached the Code.
DMD Operations Ltd t/a 31Dover.com did not believe the ad linked alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or success; nor did it imply that alcohol could enhance attractiveness. They said the video did not depict any real-life situations that would encourage or suggest excessive drinking, or that linked the act of drinking to the act of sex.
They said there was no consumption of alcohol in the video, no depiction of human and alcohol interaction, no reference to the promotion of alcohol and there were no named alcohol products or brands featured. Further, they said at no point was alcohol suggested to be for sale in the video and so believed the video did not appear in an advertising capacity. They said the primary function of the video was not to sell or to create awareness of alcoholic products but to be viewed as an entertainment piece for their customers and likened it to a short animated film.
The ASA considered that the video as featured on the advertiser’s own website and on their YouTube channel was an ad which fell within the remit of the CAP Code. The video featured alcohol products and referred throughout to the website URL where products could be purchased and was therefore clearly directly connected with the supply or transfer of goods and services provided by 31Dover.com.
We considered that the ad strongly linked alcohol to sexual activity. The ad plainly features sexual innuendo, sexual references and sexual activity in association with the promotion of alcohol products and 31Dover.com. We did not consider that because there was no human and alcohol interaction and there were no specific alcohol products or brands featured that this impression would have been eclipsed. Because the ad linked alcohol with sexual activity, we concluded it was socially irresponsible and breached the code.
The ad breached 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 18.5 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 31Dover.com to prepare future advertising in a socially responsible way and not to link alcohol to sexual activity in their future marketing communications.