Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld.
An Instagram post by Luke Mabbott promoting a VK drink, seen on 23 June 2020, featured the caption “Hellooooooooooooo [starry-face emoji] summer has officially landed. Get @vkdrink new limited edition flavour at @goodtimeindrinks Perfect heatwave vibes. [peach emoji] #ad” alongside an image of Luke holding a bottle of VK.
The complainant challenged whether:
1. the ad breached the Code because it featured someone who seemed to be under 25 years of age; and
2. the ad had been appropriately targeted because they believed that Luke Mabbott was popular with people under 18 years of age.
Response1. & 2. Global Brands said that Luke Mabbott had been chosen carefully and was over the age of 25 at the time the ad was published. Global Brands had ensured that the majority of Mr Mabbott’s target audience were over the age of 18 before he advertised the product. They provided a screenshot of Mr Mabbott’s demographic data retrieved from his Instagram account which they said demonstrated that over 92% of his audience was over the age of 18. Mr Mabbott, via his agent said he was 25 years old at the time the ad was posted and did not consider that he looked under the age of 25.
1. Not upheld
The CAP Code stated that people shown drinking alcohol or playing a significant role in a marketing communication must neither be, nor seem to be, under 25 years of age. We understood that Mr Mabbott was 25 years old when the ad was posted, and we therefore assessed whether he seemed to be under 25 in the ad. We considered that while he had a youthful appearance, he did not appear to be under 25 years old in the image.
We investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 18.16 18.16 People shown drinking or playing a significant role must neither be nor seem to be under 25. People under 25 may be shown in marketing communications, for example, in the context of family celebrations, but must be obviously not drinking. (Alcohol), but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
The CAP Code required that ads for alcoholic drinks or ads that featured or referred to alcoholic drinks were not directed at people under 18 years of age through the selection of media or the context in which they appeared. It further required that no medium should be used to advertise alcoholic drinks if more than 25% of its audience was under 18.
The ASA took into account the specific nature of Mr Mabbott’s Instagram. We noted that Mr Mabbott was a former contestant on Love Island. Although we acknowledged that it may therefore have appealed to some under 18s, we did not consider that it would be of greater appeal to them than those over 18.
We noted that Mr Mabbot’s Instagram account consisted primarily of photos and posts about lifestyle, friends, and fashion and, we therefore considered that, in general the content of Mr Mabbott’s Instagram did not focus on themes likely to be of particular appeal to under 18s. We considered that consumers were unlikely to use Instagram or interact with the Instagram pages of individuals or businesses unless they were signed in to their Instagram account.
As a non-paid for post, it would have only been seen by Mr Mabbott’s followers and in the feeds of anyone who had interacted with similar posts or accounts. We understood that because they were non-paid for posts, neither Mr Mabbott nor Global Brands would have been able to utilise the age restrictions or interest based targeting available on Instagram for paid-for ads. We understood from the audience figures provided by Global Brands that significantly less than 25% of his audience were under the age of 18. Taking into account both the nature of the Instagram account and the demographic data available, we concluded that the ad had been appropriately targeted and did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under 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), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.