Facebook ad for alcopop brand VK banned for promoting ‘unwise drinking styles’ in ‘squad’ group settings

VK

A Facebook ad for alcopop brand VK has been banned by the advertising watchdog for promoting “unwise drinking styles” and featuring people dressed up as VK bottles who appear to be under 25.

The ad, which appeared in March 2017 and has since been deleted by VK, featured an image of a group of young people dancing in a club, with the caption “Here’s a #TipTuesday for ya… VK is always better with your squad”.

A complainant challenged whether the ad was in breach of the CAP code as it featured people who appeared to be under the age of 25.

VK responded that its alcoholic beverages are predominantly drunk by students and as such, its target audience age was between 18 and 25 years. It argued that since the user-generated image was taken in an ID-controlled nightclub which was only accessible to over 18-year-olds, it was confident that the image did not feature anyone under the legal drinking age.

The brand also argued that the bottles visible in the image were all over half full and therefore did not promote excessive drinking.

"Six people in the image were drinking from bottles with their heads tilted far back. We considered that the tilted drinking position could be associated with the culture of “downing drinks”, particularly in context of the described “squad” group setting. We acknowledged that some of the bottles shown in the image appeared half full," the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) wrote.

"We noted, however, that the person at the forefront of the image appeared to be drinking from an empty bottle and others were drinking from full bottles. We considered that the image suggested that members of the “squad” were at different stages of downing their drinks. We therefore considered that the overall impression of the image was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise. We concluded that the ad breached the Code."

The ad is banned from appearing again in its current form, and the ASA have warned VK not to encourage “unwise drinking styles” or feature people who look under 25 years of age.

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