Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
A TV ad for Laphroaig whisky, seen on 31 October 2020, showed various people examining, pouring and tasting the whisky. On-screen text stated “ONE WHISKY, MANY OPINIONS”.
A close up of one man taking a sip of the whisky, followed by a still photo-shot of him was accompanied by on-screen text which stated “YOU’LL ALWAYS REMEMBER YOUR FIRST”, followed by the additional text “LAPHROAIG”. The video zoomed out from his face, which revealed a surprised expression. The ad then showed various facial expressions of the other people who had tasted the whisky, which showed surprise, and included a slow motion close up of a man with his eyes closed and mouth slightly open. Another man licked his lips while glancing sideways. Another man looked at his glass of whisky and said, “I think I love you.” The ad then showed a bottle of the whisky, with two glasses containing whisky next to it, while on-screen text stated “ARE YOU READY FOR YOUR FIRST LAPHROAIG?”. Smaller text at the bottom of the screen stated “100% genuine reactions of people trying Laphroaig for the first time. All reactions are their own”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible because:
1. it linked alcohol to sexual activity; and
2. it portrayed alcohol as indispensable.
1. & 2. Edrington-Beam Suntory UK Ltd t/a Laphroaig said that Laphroaig whisky was known for its bold and smoky taste, which often evoked strong reactions. Their brand campaigns played on that and showed the varying reactions of first-time drinkers and that people would always remember their first Laphroaig.
Laphroaig said that the first ten seconds of the ad established that its focus was on tasting the whisky. Characters walked onto the set, examined the bottle, worked out how to say the name, and then poured the drink to try for the first time. They felt that the introduction therefore removed ambiguity about what “your first” meant, other than Laphroaig. The facial expressions in the ad showed that Laphroaig whisky polarised opinions. The line “I think I love you” was a genuine reaction after tasting Laphroaig for the first time. They did not believe that the statement portrayed the drink as indispensable, but rather showed a positive reaction to the taste.
Clearcast said that there was no sexual activity explicitly or implicitly linked to the whisky in the ad, which focused on the genuine reactions that first-time tasters had after trying it. The line “You’ll always remember your first” could relate to many “firsts” in life and they felt that the reference in the ad was clearly contextualised to individuals trying Laphroaig whisky for the first time. That was shown by people sampling the drink and capturing their reactions, which showed delight, intrigue and displeasure, and that it was not to everyone’s taste. The facial expressions were not suggestively sexual in nature, especially because the context in which they were made was unambiguous.
Clearcast felt that the average viewer would understand the statement “I think I love you” as an expression of love for the flavour of the whisky, and not to mean that the product took priority in life or was indispensable.
1. & 2. Not upheld
The ASA considered that the ad clearly showed people’s reactions to tasting Laphroaig whisky, which was well known for its unusual taste. We noted the reference to “You’ll always remember your first” alongside the facial expressions, which showed various reactions after tasting the whisky, including surprise and displeasure.
We recognised that another potential interpretation of that might be a reference to losing one’s virginity. However, we considered that the claim could also be taken to refer to other “firsts”. In any case, we considered that the overall impression of the ad was that it was an illustration of the different reactions people had encountering a distinctive taste for the first time, and it did not imply any link between drinking Laphroaig whisky and sexual activity, sexual success or seduction. Because of that, we considered that the ad did not link alcohol with sexual activity, sexual success or seduction.
Given that the ad was centred on people’s reactions to the taste of the whisky, we considered that the statement “I think I love you” combined with the man’s happy facial expression while looking at his glass of whisky was likely to be seen as a light-hearted expression of his enjoyment of the whisky’s flavour. We therefore considered that the ad did not portray alcohol as being indispensable. We concluded that the ad did not link alcohol with sexual activity, sexual success or seduction or portray alcohol as being indispensable.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules
Advertisements must not link alcohol with sexual activity, sexual success or seduction or imply that alcohol can enhance attractiveness. That does not preclude linking alcohol with romance or flirtation.
and 19.7 19.7 Advertisements must not portray alcohol as indispensable or as taking priority in life. Advertisements must not imply that drinking can overcome problems or that regular solitary drinking is acceptable (Alcohol), but did not find it in breach.
No further action required.