Southern Comfort's Instagram ads found in breach of ASA Code

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has investigated separate adverts featuring Southern Comfort and Bombay Sapphire Gin and it concluded ads related to the former to be in breach of the CAP Code.

The ASA investigated two Instagram posts promoting Southern Comfort, one by Francesca Perks and the other by Jack Remmington, following complaints challenging whether the ads breached the Code by featuring someone who seemed to be, or who was, under 25 years of age.

Brand owner Sazerac UK said the ads were designed to promote a Shark Bite drink served over the week of Halloween. It said it challenged Perks and Remmington to develop their own versions of the Shark Bite.

It confirmed Perks was 22 years old when the ad was posted and upon receipt of the complaint it asked Perks to remove the post from her feed. It confirmed Remmington was 25 years old.

The ASA said: “The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Sazerac UK t/a Southern Comfort to ensure that those drinking alcohol or playing a significant role in their future advertising must neither be, nor seem to be, under 25 years of age.”

In a separate complaint, a cinema advert for Bombay Sapphire Gin came under the ASA’s radar for potentially insinuating “the consumption of alcohol could enhance creativity”.

The advert, which ran as a VOD ad in August and September 2019, and as a cinema advert in September 2019, featured colourful abstract visuals supported by a voice-over, which stated: “Creativity can take us… anywhere. So, catch an idea and make it real. Start with nothing and make something. Hold on to your vision and discover the possibilities within. Bombay Sapphire. Stir creativity.”

Three complainants challenged whether the ad implied that consumption of alcohol could enhance creativity, but the ASA assessed the adverts and did not find it in breach of the CAP Code.

The ASA said: “Although a bottle of Bombay Sapphire was featured, it was in the final frame of the ad, separate from the scenes depicting the creative process, and was unopened and sealed. We therefore considered viewers were unlikely to infer that the consumption of alcohol had acted as a catalyst for the artists’ work or had aided its completion. In that context, we did not consider the term “stir creativity” was likely to be interpreted as an explicit reference to stirring a gin with its mixer, but rather, as a reference to stirring creatively through art.”

Brand owner Bacardi Global Brands confirmed that the ad was part of its global “stir creativity” campaign and was intended to connect the brand’s identity with creativity and the arts.

Similarly, broadcaster Channel Four said it had sent the ads to Clearcast for approval and the Cinema Advertising Association (CAA) had received no complaints regarding the ad.

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