An Instagram post for the record label DnB Allstars, by influencer @thearchbishopofbanterbury, dated 27 April 2022, with a track by Vibe Chemistry titled “Balling”. The caption stated “When you ask your mate to pick you up from the bar and they ask you to bring them gifts”. A video featured a smiling woman getting into the back seat of a car and taking three filled shot glasses from under her top. She then distributed them into the hands of other individuals in the vehicle, including to a hand appearing from the front seat and retracting with a glass.
IssueThe complainant, who believed the video together with the caption showed alcohol being distributed to the driver of the vehicle, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because it linked alcohol with an activity that would be unwise or unsafe, and encouraged unsafe driving.
DNBA Entertainment Ltd t/a Dnb Allstars said the post was promoting a song they had released, “Balling” by Vibe Chemistry, and the caption was used so viewers would relate to the content, as many people would pick up their friends after a night out. They said they had not shown or promoted any alcohol brand or product in this post, it was instead solely based on the track heard on the video; they would never encourage any form of unsafe driving. They considered, therefore, that the ad was responsible. They also highlighted that there was no evidence to suggest that the liquid in the glasses was alcohol or that the video showed the liquid being passed to the driver, nor was any vehicle being used in the content as the vehicle was stationary, and the post did not encourage the irresponsible or unsafe use of any vehicle.
Bishop Media UK t/a The Archbishop of Banterbury said the intention of the caption was to relate to the viewers, as many would provide lifts for their friends. They highlighted that the ad was for a song and did not mention or advertise alcohol and showed no alcoholic brands. They said they did not condone drink driving or encourage the unsafe or irresponsible use of any vehicle. They also pointed out that the vehicle was stationary and considered that the ad was responsible.
Instagram said they had no comments in relation to the investigation.
While the post was an ad for a song, it featured both alcohol and people in a car and therefore the CAP Code rules for alcohol and motoring applied.
The Code stated that marketing communications must be socially responsible and must not link alcohol with activities in which drinking would be unsafe or unwise, including driving. Additionally, advertising must not encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving.
The ASA acknowledged that the post did not specifically mention or show a branded alcohol product. However, the caption of the post stated “When you ask your mate to pick you up from the bar and they ask you to bring them gifts”, and the video featured a woman who appeared to be dressed as though for a night out stepping into the back seat of a car, taking filled shot glasses from under her top and handing them to other people while laughing. We considered viewers would interpret that the shot glasses had been brought out of a bar concealed in her clothing, and that they contained alcohol.
A glass was passed by the woman into a hand which appeared to come from the front of the car. The video had dark lighting and it was not clear whether the drink was passed to the driver or a front passenger. However the caption, “When you ask your mate to pick you up from the bar and they ask you to bring them gifts”, suggested the driver providing the lift had asked for the “gifts”, therefore in this context we considered that viewers would also be likely to interpret that the shot was being passed to the driver. Additionally, while we noted that the car was stationary in the video, we considered viewers would expect that the group in the car would continue driving after the shots were distributed.
Given the context of the caption and alcohol being handed to people in a car including potentially the driver, we concluded that the ad linked alcohol with driving, and encouraged unsafe and irresponsible behaviour. In doing so, it breached the Code rules relating to both alcohol and motoring.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.
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.
Marketing communications must not link alcohol with activities or locations in which drinking would be unsafe or unwise.
Marketing communications must not link alcohol with the use of potentially dangerous machinery or driving. Marketing communications may feature sporting and other physical activities (subject to other rules in this section; for example, appeal to under-18s or link with daring or aggression) but must not imply that those activities have been undertaken after the consumption of alcohol. (Alcohol) and 19.2 19.2 Marketing communications must not condone or encourage unsafe or irresponsible driving. If it could be emulated, marketing communications must not depict a driving practice that is likely to condone or encourage a breach of those rules of the Highway Code that are legal requirements if that driving practice seems to take place on a public road or in a public space. Vehicles' capabilities may be demonstrated on a track or circuit if it is obviously not in use as a public highway. (Motoring).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told DNBA Entertainment Ltd t/a DnB Allstars and Bishop Media UK t/a The Archbishop of Banterbury to ensure that their future ads were socially responsible and did not link alcohol with driving.