Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, one of which was Upheld. The other was informally resolved after the advertiser agreed to amend or withdraw their advertising.
A website, www.185watlingstreet.com, for a restaurant seen in September 2017, featured a Christmas Menu brochure. The menu featured an offer for alcoholic drinks. Text stated "BARROW OF BOOZE ... (£20.00 per person - Min 15 people) Includes: - 2 boxes of wine, 3ltr (White, Red or Rose) - 20 bottles of Corona or Peroni - Bottle of Tanqueray Gin - Bottle of Ketel One Vodka - Bottle of Tequila - Mixers".
The ASA challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and breached the Code, on the grounds that the "barrow of booze" offer was likely to encourage excessive drinking.
Epic Pub Company explained that their 'Barrow of Booze' drinks package was a pre-order only package and was designed specifically for large parties consisting of a minimum of 15 guests, many of whom were booking for their Christmas parties. The drinks package was only available to parties who were booking a meal and was only offered in their supervised private dining rooms.
The package was designed to provide large groups with a wide selection of drinks to suit all tastes at a great price, making their party planning simple for them. The bookings often spanned a period of time ranging from anything from three to five hours, and the package was therefore designed to cover drinks before, during and after dinner.
Epic Pub Company provided a breakdown of the drinks package per person.
They said they were aware of similar offers both nationally and locally and provided some examples. However, the "Barrow of Booze" offer had since been removed from their menu.
The CAP Code required marketing communications to be socially responsible and contain nothing that was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise, including encouraging excessive drinking.
The ASA noted that the offer was available for a group consisting of a minimum of 15 people. We calculated that the amount of alcohol listed in the offer as available for consumption, for a group of 15, was approximately 12 units per person. We noted that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) defined binge drinking as having over eight units in a single session for men and over six units in a single session for women. We understood that the UK’s health authorities had not formally set or published the number of units which they would define as “binge” or excessive drinking, but noted that the UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO), who provided the relevant governmental advice, had recommended that it was safest for men and women not to drink regularly more than 14 units per week and it was best to spread this evenly over three days or more.
We also considered that, irrespective of the number of units of alcohol offered in the promotion, readers would understand that the drinks listed consisted of a very large amount of alcohol, even for a group of 15 people. We considered that impression was further emphasised by the offer’s name “Barrow of Booze”. We also noted the “Barrow of Booze” offer was listed in a section headed “pre-order drinks” which did not specify that the drinks offer was only intended to be served alongside a meal. We considered that those elements reinforced the impression that the offer consisted of a very large amount of alcohol and was likely to encourage excessive drinking.
In light of that, and in the context of the CMO’s advice, we considered the amount of alcohol available for consumption under the offer was, and would be understood to be, excessive and the fact that the offer was only available to those customers who had booked a meal in one of their supervised dining rooms did not mitigate that.
We concluded that the ad was irresponsible and breached the Code because it encouraged excessive drinking.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.5 8.5 Promotions must not be socially undesirable to the audience addressed by encouraging excessive consumption or irresponsible use. (Promotional marketing) and 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. (Alcohol).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Epic Pub Company Ltd to ensure that in future their advertising was not likely to lead people to adopt styles that were unwise, for example, by encouraging excessive drinking.