A paid-for Instagram post and a website for Pure Wines, seen on 26 April 2022.
a. The paid-for Instagram post featured the text “Spark Up Your Life” alongside an image of six bottles of wine. An illustration on the label of one of the bottles showed a woman from the neck down, with her breasts exposed, drinking a glass of wine.
b. The website www.purewines.co.uk, featured a listing for “JUNG & SEXY * PET-NAT” wine with text that stated “R-Rated” and an image of the product that had the same label illustration as ad (a). Further text stated, “This dark rosé Pet Nat wine is less provocative than its label but is as entertaining at the same time”.
IssueThe complainant, who believed the ads linked alcohol with seduction, sexual activity and sexual success, challenged whether they breached the Code.
Pure Wines Ltd said that ad (a) was for a mixed case of sparkling wines called “Spark Up Your Life”. They did not believe that there was any link between the ad and seduction, sexual activity or sexual success, nor did it imply that alcohol could enhance attractiveness.
They said ad (b) was a listing for a wine called “Jung & Sexy * Pet-Nat". They explained that this was a wine named and labelled by one of their suppliers, which was an Austrian winery. It was a young wine, which meant that it was produced and released a short time after the harvest. They said no sexual connotation had been intended and if the winery's intention had been to imply any connection between the design of the label and the name of the wine it would have been that both were sexy, but not sexual. They said the winery had not indicated whether the image on the label was a woman or a man, and they rejected any pre-distinction made in relation to gender. They said that neither the design of the label nor the name of the wine contained a connotation of seduction, sexual activity or sexual success, nor did they imply that alcohol could enhance attractiveness.
They stated that the text “r-rated” implied that the wine was not suitable for consumers below the age of 18, like all their wines. They said this was an American expression from the world of cinema and was used figuratively. They said that after speaking to the winery they had since removed that text from ad (b).
They said the text "This dark rosé Pet Nat wine is less provocative than its label but is as entertaining at the same time” was a reference the gender equality debate that was provoked by the wine, in particular the right to bare breasts. They said there was no connotation between the text and seduction, sexual activity, or sexual success, nor that alcohol could enhance attractiveness. They said they had amended the text to say “interesting” instead of “entertaining”.
The CAP Code required that marketing communications must neither link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success nor imply that alcohol could enhance attractiveness.
The ASA understood that both ads featured a bottle of alcoholic sparkling wine with an illustration on the label and considered the image was of a woman wearing pants and a long sleeved top which had been pulled up to expose her naked breasts. Her face was not fully visible, but she was sipping a glass of wine. We understood that this label was one which appeared on the product itself. We also understood that the text “Jung & Sexy” in ad (b) referred to the name of the product.
Notwithstanding that, we considered that the way the model was posed and styled on the label, including that her breasts were deliberately exposed, meant that the image would be seen as sexually suggestive and featured a seductive pose. We therefore considered it was inherently sexual in nature.
We acknowledged that the text, “Spark Up Your Life” in ad (a) was a reference to the sparkling wines in the case. However, we also considered that, when viewed in conjunction with the image of the woman on label, the text might be understood to refer to sexual activity and further reinforced the depiction of the woman in the ad as sexual in nature.
We considered that impression was also reinforced by the use of the term “r-rated” in ad (b), which would be understood to refer to films containing adult themes, such as sexual activity.
We considered the text "This … wine is less provocative than its label but is as entertaining at the same time” in ad (b), when viewed in conjunction with the image of the woman, would be understood to be an explicit reference to the sexually suggestive pose and styling on the label and also reinforced the depiction of the woman as sexual in nature.
Because the image, particularly in connection with some of the text, was inherently sexual, we concluded that the ads linked alcohol with seduction and sexual activity and therefore breached the Code.
On this point, the ads breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 18.5 18.5 Marketing communications must neither link alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success nor imply that alcohol can enhance attractiveness. (Alcohol).
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Pure Wines Ltd to ensure their future advertising did not link alcohol to seduction, sexual activity or sexual success.