Summary of Council decision:
Four issues were investigated, of which two were Upheld and two Not upheld.
Two outdoor poster ads and a Facebook post for Rizla rolling papers, seen in October 2018:
a. The first poster featured two people dressed as a security safe standing in front of a wall which had the word “SAFE” graffitied on it. On the right-hand side of the ad, there was a pack shot of the rolling papers which had the text “FOLD. TUCK. PROTECT” above the image. Further text below the image stated “ALL NEW PACKAGING + NEVER SETTLE”.
b. The second poster featured two people, with cardboard boxes over their heads with drawn-on facial expressions, standing in front of a wall which had the word “PROTECT” graffitied on it. On the right-hand side of the ad, there was a pack shot of the rolling papers which had the text “FOLD. TUCK. PROTECT” above the image. Further text below the image stated “ALL NEW PACKAGING + NEVER SETTLE”.
c. A post on Rizla UK’s Facebook page about a competition. Text stated “It’s competition time! For a chance to win an amazing pack of Rizla goodies all you need to do is…1) Like our page 2) Comment below and tell us what you love most about Rizla Don’t forget to share this with a friend who loves Rizla as much as you do!” The ad featured an image of Rizla branded products such as a flask, plectrum and badge.
The ASA received four complaints:
1. One complainant challenged whether ad (a) suggested that smoking was safe.
2. Two complainants challenged whether ads (a) and (b) were likely to appeal to under-18s.
3. One complainant challenged whether ad (c) encouraged people to start smoking.
4. One complainant also challenged whether ad (c), which encouraged users to share and like the post, was targeted appropriately.
Imperial Tobacco Ltd said that they took care to avoid association with or depiction of smoking in their ads. They had developed content that had no link with smoking culture and which was removed from any smoking endorsement messaging. The content of the ad was developed to show their change of packaging to existing adult Rizla users.
1. Imperial Tobacco said the purpose of ad (a) was to inform Rizla users about improvements made to their product packaging with the addition of the “tuck in” mechanism which prevented rolling papers from becoming creased or damaged. This was communicated with the message “Fold. Tuck. Protect”.
The imagery showed two models who were wrapped in locked safes in the green and blue colours of the Rizla products, and the word “safe” on the wall directly behind them. That was intended to emphasise that Rizla papers were more likely to be kept physically safe inside the new packaging. They thought it was unlikely that the average consumer would make any other association given public awareness of the health risks associated with smoking.
2. Rizla considered that ads (a) and (b) were unlikely to have particular appeal to under-18s. In relation to the colourful imagery used, the bright blue and green colours were selected to mirror the colours of Rizla packaging and align with their brand identity. They considered the use of the primary colours would not appeal to any demographic in particular.
They said that they did not consider the illustrations, which were designed to depict a helmet and a safe, with the clear use of real-life adult models, to be cartoon-like or appealing to children. The safe and helmet in the ads were shown in a less lifelike way and to create a wry sense of humour to align better with their target audience of creative, outside-the-box adult Rizla users who would perceive themselves as being expressive and somewhat unconventional. The depiction of the cardboard safe and helmet was not synonymous with cartoon imagery and the adult models were clearly shown on the ad as real-life people as opposed to animated characters.
The use of graffiti to communicate their key messages was also intended to target adult consumer groups who were urban, creative and expressive. That was reflected through their decision to place the campaign in the urban areas of Bristol and Liverpool in particular. They explained that graffiti art was strongly associated with artists and creativity, particularly so in Bristol, which as a city had developed strong cultural associations with graffiti art through artists such as Banksy. They did not consider that the use of graffiti in their ads would appeal to children, given the broad appeal of graffiti art across adults of all ages in modern urban societies. Additionally the ads were not positioned in any location which was within close proximity of a school.
1. & 2. In relation to ads (a) and (b) only, Primesight said that the ads made no reference to smoking being safe and their purpose was to promote new packaging. They ensured that all posters were outside a 100-m school exclusion zone. They stated that the ads did not contain any social media links or promotion that would encourage sharing of the creative.
3. With regards to ad (c) Rizla said that there was nothing in the language or imagery used that would encourage consumers to start smoking. They took steps to ensure the prize promotion was targeted to existing adult Rizla users. It was a condition of the prize draw that only existing smokers could enter and the prizes themselves were Rizla branded general merchandise such as a Rizla water bottle, key ring and plectrum. They did not offer smoking accessories as prizes.
They acknowledged that the ad suggested that Rizla users share the post with other Rizla adult users, as the ad stated “Don’t forget to share this with a friend who loves Rizla as much as you do”. Sharing the post was not a condition for entering the prize draw and consumers who saw the ad were not deliberately incentivised to do so. They did not consider that liking or sharing the ad with other Rizla users would have given rise to further risk of consumer harm.
4. Ad (c) was posted on the Rizla UK Facebook page. The Rizla UK Facebook page had an age gate in place which meant that only Facebook users with a profile age of 18 or above could enter the page or view the content. Facebook clarified that the age restriction also applied to all content posted on the Rizla UK page, which meant that any post which was liked or shared could not appear on the newsfeeds of other Facebook users who were under the age of 18. Facebook did not permit different access restrictions based on gender, therefore they were unable to stipulate a higher age limit for females. Rizla said that according to recent data they understood that as of January 2018, only 10.9% of total UK Facebook users were females under the age of 25 and 1.8% of UK Facebook users were males under 18 years old.
They also selected interest factors to target the ad further, as per the recommendations of the CAP guidance on ‘Children and age-restricted ads online’. Interests were selected on the basis of those categories appealing to an adult audience and included categories such as wine, sprits, beer, nightlife, nightclubs, live music, concerts and music festivals. Therefore they believed they took reasonable steps to exclude under 18s from the target audience of the ad.
Ad (a) featured the graffiti’d term “safe” prominently displayed beside the text “FOLD. TUCK. PROTECT…ALL NEW PACKAGING”. We considered that many people would interpret the use of the word “safe” in this context to suggest that smoking with Rizla rolling papers was safe, rather than solely as a reference to the packaging of the new product.
Because the use of the word “safe” suggested that smoking was safe, and this could encourage people to smoke or increase their consumption, we concluded the ad breached the Code.
On this point, ad (a) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 21.2 21.2 Marketing communications for rolling papers or filters must neither encourage people to start smoking nor encourage people who smoke to increase their consumption. and 21.3.2 21.3.2 suggest that smoking is natural, safe, popular, glamorous or aspirational or that it can lead to social, sexual, romantic or business success (Rolling papers and filters).
Both ads (a) and (b) featured colourful imagery with a graffiti wall backdrop and people wearing cardboard cut-outs depicting either a security safe or a helmet. We considered the use of graffiti in both ads, and the term “safe” in ad (a) which was also a slang term commonly used by young people, was associated with youth culture and would resonate with and appeal to people under 18. We also considered that the presentation of two people standing in bold coloured cardboard cut-out objects which also corresponded to the colour of the Rizla packaging in ads (a) and (b) were shown in a playful manner and which was likely to appeal to people under 18. We therefore concluded that ads (a) and (b) were likely to appeal to people under 18 and therefore breached the Code.
On this point ads (a) and (b) breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 21.5 21.5 Marketing communications for rolling papers or filters must not be targeted at, or be likely to appeal to, people under 18. Anyone depicted in a marketing communication for rolling papers or filters must be, and be seen to be, over 25. No medium may be used to advertise rolling papers or filters if more than 25% of its audience is or is likely to be males under 18 years of age or females under 24 years of age. No direct marketing communication for rolling papers or filters may be distributed to males under 18 years of age or females under 24 years of age. (Rolling papers and filters).
3. Not upheld
Ad (c) was a Facebook post relating to a promotion, which featured images of Rizla branded merchandise that could be won by those who liked the Rizla Facebook page and commented on the post. The items featured in the pack, which included a Rizla branded water bottle, key ring and plectrum, were not smoking accessories and the items themselves were not specifically linked to smoking other than through featuring the Rizla logo.
We therefore concluded that because the items featured in the ad were not associated with smoking and the promotion provided no incentive or instruction to smoke, ad (c) was unlikely to encourage people to start smoking or encourage existing smokers to increase their consumption.
On this point, we investigated ad (c) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 21.2 21.2 Marketing communications for rolling papers or filters must neither encourage people to start smoking nor encourage people who smoke to increase their consumption. (Rolling papers and filters), but did not find the ad in breach of the Code.
We understood that businesses had tools available to them which they could use to restrict the audience of their page and individual posts on their page. We understood that the Rizla Facebook page was age restricted so that only males and females who were registered on Facebook as aged 18 or over could view the content featured on their page and that any content from the page would not feature on newsfeeds of those under 18 if it was liked and shared.
We acknowledged that Rizla had further utilised interest based targeting features on Facebook to further minimise the possibility of those under 18, including those who may have misreported their age, from viewing the post. We were therefore satisfied that ad (c) was targeted appropriately.
On this point, we investigated ad (c) under CAP Code (Edition 12) rule 21.5 21.5 Marketing communications for rolling papers or filters must not be targeted at, or be likely to appeal to, people under 18. Anyone depicted in a marketing communication for rolling papers or filters must be, and be seen to be, over 25. No medium may be used to advertise rolling papers or filters if more than 25% of its audience is or is likely to be males under 18 years of age or females under 24 years of age. No direct marketing communication for rolling papers or filters may be distributed to males under 18 years of age or females under 24 years of age. (Rolling papers and filters), but did not find the ad in breach of the Code.
Ads (a) and (b) must not appear again in their current form. We told Rizla to ensure that their ads did not suggest that smoking was safe and not to feature content that was likely to appeal to children under 18.