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By Imogen Watson | Senior reporter

April 9, 2019 | 2 min read

Macallan whisky has had a rap on the knuckles from the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after the watchdog received complaints about a TV ad deemed socially irresponsible.

The ad featured a man leaping off a cliff and tumbling towards the ground. As the man falls further and further, he starts sprouting feathers, before growing fully-functioning wings.

The on-screen text read: "Would you risk falling... for the chance to fly?" The man pulls up from the nosedive and flies away, with the end-frame stating: "The Macallan. Make the call."

A TV ad, video on demand (VOD) ad and a paid-for ad on Instagram gathered six complaints between them, that challenged whether the ads were irresponsible and linked alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.

Due to the association with alcohol, the complaints questioned whether the winged man's risky behaviour could be to do with drinking and if alcohol was linked with bravery and toughness.

Macallan explained it employed the line 'Make the call' globally to describe the brand's philosophy and it was used in relation to the decisions that the brand made in its own history.

It argued that the treatment of the story was mythical and clearly removed from the real world.

The ASA upheld the ad because it said there was no suggestion that the male character had any super-human attributes or powers, or part of a mythical world.

It felt the man's decision to jump off the cliff was extreme risk-taking behaviour. Although the character was not seen consuming alcohol at any point, the ad made a clear association between an alcoholic product and potentially dangerous behaviour.

Fellow alcohol brand, Captain Morgan, has also been reprimanded by the ASA for promoting similar reckless alcohol-induced behaviour.

It's 'Live Like the Captain' campaign encouraged fans to 'captain the dancefloor,' and 'captain the night' to underline the rum maker's ethos, which it said centred on friendship, camaraderie and living life to the full.

Marketing ASA the Macallan

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