Drinks company Hi Spirits has been rapped by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for uploading photos to Facebook that promoted excessive drinking and linked drinking and driving.
A complaint was made to the ASA after pictures appeared on the company's Antica Sambuca UK Facebook page that showed young adults in a bar or club, holding or consuming alcoholic drinks.
In two of the photos a man was shown holding multiple drinks and car keys and the ASA also challenged whether some of the pictures breached the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code, because they featured people drinking alcohol who appeared to be under 25 years of age.
Hi Spirits maintained that the photographs were not advertising or marketing, to which the CAP Code applies, but said that they had been uploaded to the social media site so that the individuals featured could view them.
However the ASA noted that the code does apply to marketing communications in non-paid for space online that was under the advertiser's control.
"We understood that Hi Spirits had editorial control of the Antica Sambuca Facebook page and had chosen to upload the images seen on the photos page," said the ASA in its assessment of the complaint.
"We also considered that the purpose of the Antica Sambuca Facebook page, including the uploaded images was to promote the brand and the product, and encourage consumers to purchase it."
Hi Spirits said it took the complaint very seriously and had removed a number of the photographs from Facebook.
But the ASA said that a number of images featuring individuals considered to be below the age of 25 remained and ordered the rest of the photographs to be taken down.
Jeremy Hill, chairman of Hi-Spirits, said: "The social media pages for our brands are intended to create a sense of community for customers who enjoy our products responsibly.
"We acted to remove some photographs as soon as the matter was raised with us by the ASA, and sought clarification on others, and acted on receiving that clarification. We have implemented new procedures to ensure that our brands' social media complies with the ASA requirements."
By Janie Manzoori-Stamford
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