Ad description

An entertainment mailing from the Inverness City Advertiser, titled "whatsonhighlands", stated "... the weekly fix … A new way to keep up to date with what's on - and where to go, brought to you by: ica/ … Inject some fun into your life, sign up today …". The ad also featured an image of a full hypodermic syringe and needle.


Five complainants challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

Investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Responsible advertising) and 4.1 (Harm and offence).


ICA t/a said they had received around 12 complaints about the ad and had decided not to publish it again or use imagery that could be seen as drugs-related paraphernalia. They said they had taken that decision, not because they considered the ad was irresponsible, but because they did not want to cause offence to the complainants. They said the ad was part of a larger campaign based on the word 'fix' which related to consumers' hobbies or consumption habits. They said the ad used a syringe, filled with a blue colour to represent the brand and to convey the 'injection of information'. They did not consider that a syringe was synonymous with hard drugs or heroin, rather the positive uses of hypodermic needles far outweighed the negative aspects.



The ad was headlined "the weekly fix" with text that stated "Inject some fun …" which in isolation was likely to convey the message that updates were essential reading for consumers interested in regional entertainment listings. However, the ad also included a visual of a needle and syringe which alongside the text "weekly fix" and "inject", in the context of a consumer lifestyle mailing, the ASA considered were likely to imply recreational and illegal drug use. We therefore considered the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious and widespread offence.

The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules  1.3 1.3 Marketing communications must be prepared with a sense of responsibility to consumers and to society.  (Responsible advertising) and  4.1 4.1 Marketing communications must not contain anything that is likely to cause serious or widespread offence. Particular care must be taken to avoid causing offence on the grounds of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability or age. Compliance will be judged on the context, medium, audience, product and prevailing standards.
Marketing communications may be distasteful without necessarily breaching this rule. Marketers are urged to consider public sensitivities before using potentially offensive material.
The fact that a product is offensive to some people is not grounds for finding a marketing communication in breach of the Code.
 (Harm and offence).


The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told ICA t/a not to use text and imagery which implied illegal drug use.

CAP Code (Edition 12)

1.3     4.1    

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