The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a series of Facebook posts placed by the Scottish Gin Society because they encouraged excessive drinking, made misleading nutrition claims and linked gin drinking with sex.
The ASA took issue with several posts which included internet memes about the ‘medicinal’ qualities of drinking a gin and tonic.
The posts claimed that a gin and tonic could ease menstrual pain, that the cocktail was a healthy alternative to eating fruit, could make drinkers slimmer, ‘speed up’ the digestive system and that it could act as treatment for depression.
Despite the light-hearted tone of the posts, the watchdog said that ads “must not imply that alcohol had therapeutic qualities or that it could enhance mental or physical capabilities”.
The watchdog investigated the Facebook posts following complaints raised by the Aberdeenshire Alcohol & Drug Partnership.
The ASA also raised issues with a post that read: “Gin…Helping otherwise smart girls embrace their inner skank since the 1600’s [sic].” The watchdog said that the posts linked alcohol with sexual activity and therefore breached the advertising Code.
The watchdog noted that three of the posts – including one that suggested that drinkers choose gin over water, and another that encouraged readers to take up ‘Ginuary’ instead of giving up alcohol for the month of January – breached rules regarding the encouragement of excessive drinking.
The Scottish Gin Society said that it didn't consider the Facebook posts to be ads and argued that they did not fall within the ASA's remit as The Scottish Gin Society isn't monetised and doesn't sell any products or get paid to promote products.
The ASA considered that the Facebook posts were ads, because they were directly connected to the promotion of The Scottish Gin Society’s membership service and the intention to sell gin.
While the ASA said it welcomed the Society’s decision to remove the posts, it told the organisation to “ensure that in the future they did not encourage the excessive consumption of alcohol, not make comparative nutrition claims or health claims, and not imply that alcohol had therapeutic qualities or suggest that it could enhance physical capabilities… or that it could enhance attractiveness or lead to sexual success.”