A TV ad, for Bulmers cider, showed the night out of groups of young people in reverse. They were shown drinking Bulmers in some of the scenarios, in particular those at the end of the ad (which related to the beginning of the night). A voice-over stated, "We don't have a master plan, so we don't know where the night will take us. But one thing is certain. It will begin with a Bulmers." Text on screen stated "IN THE BEGINNING".
A viewer challenged whether the ad condoned irresponsible drinking, because he believed it implied the success of a social occasion was always dependent on alcohol.
Heineken UK Ltd (Heineken) said the ad was intended to show that Bulmers tended to be the drink that its target audience chose at the beginning of a social occasion and that Bulmers drinkers might take a spontaneous approach to an evening out. They said the ad was prepared with a sense of responsibility and scripts were amended following advice from Clearcast, in order to help ensure compliance with both the spirit and the letter of the Code. Heineken said there was nothing in the ad that encouraged irresponsible or immoderate drinking. None of the characters depicted were shown with more than one bottle of Bulmers during the ad and they were never seen consuming the drink. They said none of the characters' behaviour appeared irresponsible or as though it was affected by the consumption of alcohol, they were merely discovering events already taking place around the city in the late afternoon and joining in. The groups' final act was intended to be at sunset, which implied their activities were for only a few hours with no suggestion of repeat drinking.
Heineken said alcohol was not a key component of the ad and therefore it could not be argued that it was a key component of the success of the social occasions depicted. While the characters in the ad decided that the night was certain to begin with a Bulmers, it was not implied that should be the case for every night or that the evening's success was dependent on it beginning with the drink. They said none of the characters were seen to have improved in the eyes of others after drinking and no one was portrayed as weak after refusing the product, for example. They believed the ad did not breach the Code.
Clearcast endorsed Heineken's response and added that all Clearcast-approved alcohol advertising had a restriction to ensure it was not broadcast in or around children's programming or those likely to appeal particularly to audiences under-18 years of age. The actors in the ad were over 25 and appeared to be. They believed the ad showed alcohol being consumed only in a responsible fashion and that none of the characters appeared to be intoxicated or behaving as such. They said there was nothing in the ad that encouraged irresponsible or immoderate drinking. They believed it was clear there was no suggestion that the success of the social occasion was dependent on, or as a result of, drinking alcohol. Clearcast also pointed out the voice-over stated that the characters did not know where the evening would take them and said therefore it could be the case that the occasion would not be a successful one. They said the overriding message was that Bulmers could be a choice of drink for a group of friends.
The ASA noted the voice-over in the ad stated, "We don't know where the night will take us. But one thing is certain. It will begin with a Bulmers." We acknowledged the complainant's concern, but considered the overall impression of the ad was such that viewers would understand the strap line, and the general message of the ad to be that the young people depicted were enjoying social occasions that evolved spontaneously and that members of the groups shown had a brand preference for Bulmers, rather than that the success of those occasions was dependent on alcohol being consumed. While we considered it was clear that the characters in the ad intended to drink alcohol, we noted the product was shown on only a few occasions and that the characters did not appear to behave as though they had consumed alcohol irresponsibly. We considered the ad did not imply the success of the social occasions was dependent on the consumption of alcohol and therefore concluded that it did not breach the Code.
We investigated the ad under BCAP Code rules 1.2 1.2 Advertisements must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to the audience and to society. (Responsible advertising) and 19.4 19.4 Advertisements must not imply that drinking alcohol is a key component of social success or acceptance or that refusal is a sign of weakness. Advertisements must not imply that the success of a social occasion depends on the presence or consumption of alcohol. (Alcohol) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.