Summary of Council decision:
Two issues were investigated, both of which were Not upheld
A tweet and a TV ad for Strongbow cider, seen in May 2022:
a. The TV ad, seen on 20 May, featured a purple goat standing with one hoof on a can of Strongbow Ultra Dark Fruit while nodding its head to garage music. On-screen text stated, “DRINK THE G.O.A.T”.
b. A tweet on Strongbow UK’s Twitter account, seen on 2 May 2022, stated, “Strongbow ULTRA Dark Fruit. Natural flavours. 95Kcal per can. No wonder it’s the G.O.A.T [purple heart emoji] Try it for yourself #NewTastesGood # [purple goat emoji] #UltraGoat [purple goat emoji].”
The tweet contained an embedded video which was identical to ad (a).
The complainants, who believed the ads contained elements that reflected or were associated with youth culture, challenged whether:
1. ad (a) was likely to have strong appeal to people aged under 18 and therefore breached the Code; and
2. ad (b) was likely to have particular appeal to people aged under 18 and therefore breached the Code.
1.& 2. Heineken UK Ltd said they believed strongly in marketing alcohol products responsibly and said they had taken particular care to ensure that the ads did not appeal to under-18s. They said that the character of the goat was entirely fictional so therefore had no latent appeal. They said it was an adult male goat that had been composed from CGI and was of a realistic appearance with no cartoon-like characteristics or qualities. They said it did not appear ‘cute’ or ‘sweet’; instead, it was portrayed as serious and rugged looking, which were characteristics they did not believe would appeal to under 18’s.
They did not believe the ads appealed to the typical insecurities of young people, such as attractiveness or social acceptance. They said there was no implication of social acceptance in the ads and noted the goat was a lone character and the product was never consumed.
They said the phrase “G.O.A.T”, meaning ‘greatest of all time’ was a widely used acronym, and a term used to describe the ultimate incarnation of anything from athletes to musicians, to cars. They said it was first used in relation to Mohammed Ali in 1992 and was now widely used by media and consumers alike. They said there was no basis to suggest that the phrase ‘the GOAT’ had particular appeal to youth culture, over and above the general population.
They said the music track used in the ads was called Daga Dag by DJ, Sammy Virji. They said the genre was UK-based bass/garage and the tone and pitch of the track was a deep and low bass. The genre was prevalent in the 1990s and was not one that was associated with children. They said to further ensure the track would not have appeal to under-18s, due diligence was undertaken with regards to the artist’s existing audience: on Spotify, 95% of his audience over the last two years had been over 18 and 95% of his followers on Instagram were over 18. They added that the figure was 93% on YouTube, and 89% on TikTok. They noted that 100% of viewers of the track Daga Dag on YouTube were over 18. They believed that was clear evidence that the track did not appeal to under-18s, and therefore, there was no implication that it would be of specific appeal to that age group.
They said ad (b) was targeted at an 18+ audience which meant it would never appear in the feed of someone under the age of 18 who had entered their correct personal details on the platform.
They believed there was no evidence to suggest that the wording, the character of the goat or the music track had any particular appeal to under-18s.
In relation to ad (a), Clearcast said they had considered whether the various elements in the ad would be likely to have youth appeal. They believed the reference to “Drink the G.O.A.T” had more of a general appeal and they noted that references to “GOAT” were frequently used in media and sport and were not specifically associated with youth culture. They did not believe the image of the goat was likely to appeal to under-18s because the animation was realistic rather than cute or cartoon-like. They said the advertiser had provided them with the listener demographic for the track and artist across all social media which showed that between 89% and 97% of the listeners were 18+.
They said they were therefore satisfied that the ad, as a whole, was unlikely to appeal to youth culture.
1. Not upheld
The BCAP Code required that alcohol ads must not be likely to appeal strongly to people aged under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture or showing adolescent or juvenile behaviour. Therefore, alcohol ads in broadcast media must not have content that would be of significant appeal to children, regardless of when they were broadcast.
The ASA acknowledged that the purple colouring used in the ad alongside the action of the goat subtly nodding its head and tapping its hoof to the music were features that were unusual and whimsical and therefore could appeal to some under-18s. However, we considered that, those features aside, the depiction of the goat was predominantly serious and realistic - it was not particularly animated, kept a neutral facial expression throughout and did not make any noises other than chewing. We also noted that it was a full-grown animal and it had not been digitally altered to make it cartoon-like. We therefore considered that, overall, the character would not be likely to have a strong appeal to under-18s.
We understood the acronym G.O.A.T was a widely used term to describe something or someone who was the best in their field. We considered that while the term would be known to many under-18s, there was nothing to suggest the term had any strong appeal for, or association with, that age group or youth culture in general.
In relation to the music featured in the ad, we understood that Heineken had conducted due diligence checks that showed the overwhelming majority of the artist’s followers on social media were over 18. We acknowledged that while the music used in the ad may still appeal to some viewers aged under 18, we considered the appeal was unlikely to be significant enough for it to be deemed as having a ‘strong appeal’ to under-18s or of being reflective of that age group.
For those reasons, we concluded that the ad was unlikely to appeal strongly to under-18s and was therefore not irresponsible.
On this point, we investigated ad (a) under BCAP rule 19.5.1 (Alcohol), but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
The CAP Code required that alcohol ads must not be likely to appeal particularly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. Alcohol ads in non-broadcast media must not, therefore, have content that would appeal more to under-18s than it would to over-18s, regardless of whether they were appropriately targeted.
For the reasons given in point 1, we considered that the goat character, the music and the terminology used in the ad were unlikely to have more appeal to under-18s than to over-18s.
We noted that the use of animated animal characters had the potential to appeal to under-18s. However, for the reasons set out above, we concluded that the goat and the other elements in the ad did not have particular appeal to under-18s, and the ad was not, therefore, irresponsible.
On that point we investigated ad (b) under CAP rule 18.14 18.14 Marketing communications must not be likely to appeal particularly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture. They should not feature or portray real or fictitious characters who are likely to appeal particularly to people under 18 in a way that might encourage the young to drink. People shown drinking or playing a significant role (see rule 18.16) should not be shown behaving in an adolescent or juvenile manner. (Alcohol), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.