Halewood to rethink Dead Man's Fingers Hemp ads following ASA ruling

Marketing messages related to the CBD and Hemp-infused rum Dead Man’s Fingers Hemp, owned by Halewood International, have been found to be in breach of the UK Advertising Code.

The Scottish Government’s Alcohol Harm Prevention Team challenged an Instagram post from the brand in July, which stated: “Hemp Rum, coming to a joint near you” supported with an image of the product’s bottle, which stated Hemp Rum on the label. In the background there was an image of a skull wearing a hat with a cannabis leaf print.

A second post showed a photograph of an outdoor ad, which stated: “Warning: Our hemp rum might cause the munchies”, again with an image of the skull in the background. The caption included text which stated: “So, now you know – our new rum – Dead Man’s Fingers Hemp. It will quite literally blow your mind.”

A third incident was recorded in a trade magazine advert, which included the text “Dealers Wanted”, featuring a bottle of the product.

The Scottish Government’s team challenged whether the three pieces of activity linked alcohol to illicit drugs. They also questioned whether the ads would have appeal particularly to people under 18; and they queried whether the claim: “it will quite literally blow your mind”, portrayed alcohol as capable of changing mood.

The ASA concluded that: “because the ads featured imagery and wording associated with the illicit drug cannabis, the ads linked alcohol to illicit drugs and therefore breached the Code”.

Separately they concluded that the ads were not likely to appeal particularly to under-18s and they therefore did not breach the Code in this respect.

And finally, they addressed the fact that the CAP Code states that alcohol ads must not imply that alcohol had therapeutic qualities.

They considered the phrase “it will quite literally blow your mind” would be understood as an indication that the product would change someone’s behaviour or mood in the same way as cannabis.

Therefore, the ASA concluded it breached the Code.

A spokesperson for The Cornish Rum Company said: "While we strongly disagree with the complaint and the resulting ruling by the ASA, we understand that responsible advertising is required and will abide with the findings."

It said: “The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Halewood International t/a The Cornish Rum Company Ltd to ensure in future that their ads did not link alcohol to illicit drugs and that they did not imply alcohol was capable of changing mood.”

Separately, Dead Man's Fingers Hemp Rum has just secured a listing with Sainsbury's, marking the first time a CBD-infused alcoholic drink has been listed in the grocery channel in the UK. 

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