A series of Facebook adverts for vodka-based alcopop WKD have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after they were deemed “irresponsible”.
A complaint was lodged by the Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC) who alleged that the advertisements, which it said were likely to appeal to the under 18 market, implied that alcohol could enhance confidence, that alcohol was capable of changing mood and behaviour and was a key component of the success of a social event.
One of the ads featured a WKD 8 ball prediction stating, “you will refuse to do karaoke, at first”, before showing a bottle of WKD.
Laura Mackenzie, an expert in brands and advertising at law firm Browne Jacobson, said: “This is not the first time that the YAAC – a group that monitor alcohol advertising to ensure young people are protected from exposure – has achieved success against alcohol industry ads.
“Once again we see that it is vital to monitor your social media presence, a medium heavily used by young people; this decision highlights the importance of reviewing ads in light of the ASA advertising rules for alcohol which are amongst the strictest in the world.”
Beverage Brands UK, which owns WKD, said they intended to comply with all industry codes and had developed their own responsible drinking campaign as well as running regular responsibility training for staff and external agencies.
Responding to the allegations Beverage Brands UK told the ASA that its Facebook page was accessible only to those registered with Facebook with a date of birth that meant they were over 18.
The ASA said: “[Beverage Brands] said [the ad] was part of a series of ‘predictions’, which pointed out truisms such as that many people refuse to do karaoke until others had had a go. They said no reference was made to alcohol playing a part in that, or to alcohol being consumed, and that was not the intended meaning. Beverage Brands said the ad was a one-off however they were prepared to remove it from their Facebook timeline.”
While the ads did not actually show any alcohol being consumed, the ASA said the combination of bottles of WKD throughout the ads and its surrounding text suggested that alcohol could enhance confidence and was a “key component” to the success of a social occasion.
Ordering the removal of the ads the ASA stated: “We told Beverage Brands (UK) Ltd to ensure their future advertising did not imply alcohol could enhance confidence, was integral to the success of a social event, or was capable of changing mood or behaviour.”