The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a TikTok influencer ad for a hard seltzer brand, over nutrition claims and encouraging excessive drinking.

The TikTok post by influencer Rosie Breen featured a video titled “3 reasons why I drink Whisp alcohol”, in which she was seen holding a can in each hand. Further captions included: “Im [sic] on my weight loss journey & they’re only 63 calories a can” and “They actually get you drunk”. The caption of the post stated “#AD 10/10 beveragino I’ve been drinking for exactly one year […]”

The ASA upheld the complaints, stating that the post was irresponsible for encouraging excessive drinking. The watchdog also said the only permitted nutrition claims that could be made in relation to alcohol were “low-alcohol”, “reduced alcohol” and “reduced energy”.

The ASA added that the Code allowed that ads for alcoholic drinks could give factual information about product contents. “It was therefore permissible for advertisers to make factual numerical statements about the calorific content of an alcoholic drink in their advertising. However, the ASA considered that by preceding the “63 calories a can” claim with the word “only”, the ad suggested that the drink had the particular beneficial nutritional property of being low in calories (i.e. energy). Additionally, we considered the statement “Im [sic] on my weight loss journey” further emphasised that the product was low in calories.”

The ASA also upheld a complaint that the ad featured someone that appeared to be under 25. Breen confirmed she was 24 at the time the ad appeared. 

Whisp said it would remove the post, while Breen said it was the first time she had worked with brands and was unaware of the sensitive nature of the message. She apologised and agreed to adhere to the rules in the future.

According to the ASA, TikTok said that the video was branded content promoting alcohol, which was globally prohibited on their platform, and that it had been removed.