The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) has upheld three complaints out of four against drinks marketing and import business Hi Spirits.
The ASA received a single complaint about adverts on the Facebook page of Fireball Whisky, which is marketed by Hi Spirits, which expressed concerns that they promoted irresponsible drinking.
The Facebookpage showed ads including:
a. A young woman pouring alcohol from two bottles. The text stated "How many bottles would you need to last the whole night?";
b. A young man lying face down on a bed;
c. A poster in the style of "Keep Calm and Carry On". The text stated: "TAKE A SHOT AND IGNITE THE NITE". A caption stated: "Like if you think this is a good plan for the weekend!";
d. A status update. The text stated: "What are your Fireball stories from the weekend (or any weekend)? Best ones win Fireball freebies!" Responses were posted underneath and included comments such as "Last week went to Las Vegas and saw Guns n Roses play for three and a half hours. Thanks to the bottle of fireball I had beforehand I only remember the first seven songs"; "HAD FIREBALL + APPLE J AND SPEWED IN A BUSH. FREEBIE?" and "Went back to the bar so many times for some Fireball and Apple Juice the guy sold me the bottle so I could have it at my table instead. Fair to say, my memory is hazy. Woke up hugging said bottle, and my shoes in the shower";
e. Three young women drinking alcohol;
f. Four teddy bears on a bed with the advertiser's logo; and
g. A status update with text stating: "DEAR STUDENTS - Exams and coursework getting you down? Like this status and tell us why we should send you some Fireball and freebies to keep you going!"
The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC) challenged whether adverts (a), (b), (c) and (d) were socially irresponsible because they promoted excessive drinking. It also questioned whether advert (e) breached the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code because the people shown appeared to be under 25, whether advert (f) was likely to appeal to people under 18, and whether (g) suggested that the product was capable of changing mood and enhancing mental capabilities.
The ASA upheld the YAAC's complaints in respect of adverts (a), (b) and (d), on the basis that advert (a) promoted excessive drinking because the woman was depicted casually pouring alcohol into large glasses bigger than shot glasses. It said (b) glorified the idea that the man had consumed a large amount of alcohol and was intoxicated. Meanwhile advert (d) was also found to be in breach of the CAP code because the responses to the question posed also glorified the excessive consumption of alcohol.
The ASA also upheld the YAAC's complaint in respect of advert (e). However (f) did not break the code because Fireball's Facebook page had an age gate mechanism and the ASA ruled that it was unlikely to have a particular appeal to children, and the complaint in respect of this advert was not upheld.
Finally, the ASA upheld the complaint against advert (g) because it could give the impression that Fireball would have a positive effect on the mental or physical abilities of the recipients of Fireball freebies.
The ASA ruled that ads (a), (b), (d), (e) and (g) must not appear again in their current form.