Promotional marketing from pizza chain Prezzo, seen in February and March 2017, offered unlimited prosecco with a meal.
a. An email sent 28 February 2017 was headlined “Prosecco Pay Day has arrived ...”. It featured a photo of three people smiling and clinking glasses. Text stated “#PROSECCOPAYDAY IS BACK. BOTTOMLESS PROSECCO FOR £15pp … It's Pay Day, Bottomless Prosecco is back! … Grab your friends, partners & colleagues, head to Prezzo & party with bottomless Prosecco for only £15pp … T&C’s apply”. The terms and conditions, which appeared on a separate web page, stated “Your code entitles you to free flowing Prosecco for 2 hours for £15 per person. Each person must purchase a main dish … Prosecco will be served by the glass and will continue to be topped up when you finish each glass. We reserve the right to refuse alcohol beverage service to anyone who appears intoxicated".
b. An email sent 1 March 2017 stated “BOTTOMLESS FOR £15PP … Get your code to enjoy bottomless Prosecco for £15 per person when purchased with any main dish”. The following terms were included in the email, in smaller text “Your code entitles you to free flowing Prosecco for 2 hours for £15 per person. Each person must purchase a main dish. Valid at Prezzo Restaurants only. Prosecco will be served by the glass and will continue to be topped up when you finish each glass. We reserve the right to refuse alcohol beverage service to anyone who appears intoxicated”.
c. An email sent 3 March 2017, featured an image of prosecco cascading into several glasses. Text stated “Celebrate Friday, Pay Week and the start of March with bottomless Prosecco for only £15pp. Grab your friends, partners and colleagues and head to Prezzo. #ProseccoPayDay ... T&C's apply”.
The complainant challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and encouraged excessive drinking.
Prezzo Ltd stated the promotion sought to use the monthly payday as an opportunity for friends and colleagues to gather for a meal and a drink of prosecco. It was directed at working professionals. They stated they had made clear in the ads, and in the terms and conditions, that customers were required to purchase a main dish to redeem the offer. They stated the ads encouraged diners to enjoy some prosecco alongside their main meal, but did not believe the ads encouraged irresponsible drinking. They reiterated that the terms stated that the prosecco was not left on diners’ tables, but the waiting staff would top up glasses at their discretion.
They pointed out the ads were sent to subscribers who were over 18 years of age and portrayed individuals in office wear. They believed that the ad did not include images or language that would appeal to a younger audience.
Prezzo indicated that the two-hour time period represented the total period during which a table could be reserved and was not intended to place a limit on the duration for which prosecco could be obtained. They stated it was common industry practice to ensure tables were not occupied for very long periods of time and considered consumers would understand that the reservation time limit was a guideline as to how long customers could spend over their dinner, so the restaurant could accommodate as many diners as possible.
Prezzo stated promotions offering unlimited alcohol beverages with a meal were common and they provided examples of promotions of that kind from a reservation deals website. They also highlighted that the website had a page dedicated to such deals. They therefore considered consumers were accustomed to unlimited alcohol offers and understood they were intended to combine an offering of food and drink at a fixed price.
The ASA acknowledged that the imagery in ad (a) was likely to be interpreted to represent a group of people enjoying a social occasion who did not appear as if they had been drinking to excess or intended to do so. We also acknowledged that the advertisers were primarily a restaurant and that consumers would understand from the ads that they were required to purchase a main course to take up the offer; we therefore considered that consumers would understand the offer of prosecco was intended to accompany a meal.
However, the wording “BOTTOMLESS PROSECCO” featured prominently in the ads and we considered that wording contributed to an impression that large or excessive amounts of alcohol could be consumed as part of the offer. We also noted that the ad stated “#PROSECCOPAYDAY IS BACK” and the offer was intended to coincide with pay day – for example, it invited readers to “Grab your friends, partners & colleagues, head to Prezzo & party with bottomless Prosecco”. We therefore considered that, in the context of an offer for unlimited alcohol, some readers might associate socialising and partying with colleagues and friends to mean that an excessive amount of alcohol was intended to be consumed, in order to celebrate pay day. We further considered that impression was reinforced by the image in ad (c) showing Prosecco cascading into several glasses and the reference in the terms to “free flowing Prosecco”.
In light of that, we concluded the ads were likely to encourage excessive drinking and breached the Code.
The ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 8.5 8.5 Promotions must not be socially undesirable to the audience addressed by encouraging excessive consumption or irresponsible use. (Promotional marketing) and 18.1 18.1 Marketing communications must be socially responsible and must contain nothing that is likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that are unwise. For example, they should not encourage excessive drinking. Care should be taken not to exploit the young, the immature or those who are mentally or socially vulnerable. (Alcohol).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Prezzo Ltd to ensure their advertising was socially responsible and contained nothing likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise, for example, by encouraging excessive drinking.