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Gin advert banned for linking alcohol and mountain climbing

A television advert for a Scottish gin brand has been banned by the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority for linking alcohol consumption with mountain climbing.

The advert for Trossachs Distillery’s McQueen Gin was broadcast on 19 June this year, and featured three people walking in the Scottish Highlands.

The ad was interspersed with scenes of a drink being made using the gin, garnished with ice, berries and lime.

A wetsuit-clad member of the group was then shown diving into a loch, while another scene showed the trio helping each other to reach the top of a crag. It finished with a shot of a bottle with the Scottish Highlands in the background, with the text “McQUEEN – Adventurous Scottish Spirit ‒ #distilledtobedifferent”.

The advert was accompanied by a voice-over, stating: “Choose to explore; choose diving into something new; choose taking a different direction; choose nature and its elements; choose bringing your friends to the top; choose a drink full of adventure; choose McQueen Gin, adventurous Scottish spirit.”

Defending its decision to air the ad, Trossachs Distillery said it was “fully aware” of its responsibilities as an alcohol company, and had sought guidance from Clearcast, an organisation which vets adverts before they are broadcast to the public.

Clearcast had stated that the advert had abided by the advertising code of practice and Trossachs added that it did not believe the ad to be irresponsible.

In its ruling, Clearcast had said that the advert portrayed “stylised activities that tied in with the brand’s identity, ingredients and product rather than any significant feats”.

The organisation added that the people where shown walking up a gentle incline along a marked hiking trail, while the swimmer was depicted “diving safely”.

“The group was not shown partaking in dangerous mountain climbing or carrying equipment that implied there would be difficult terrain to combat, which would make ascending or descending a safety concern.”

Clearcast believed the image of the drink was a portrayal of refreshment after activity and added that adverts involving the outdoors “were not uncommon in alcohol ads and had been found not to breach the Code”.

It ruled that “there was no implication of alcohol being consumed during the activity”.

The ASA, however, disagreed, ruling that the ad was not allowed to be broadcast again in its current form.

Explaining its reasoning, the body said that “the implication of the sequence of events shown in the ads was that the group drank McQueen Gin and a mixer at the summit of a mountain peak, after which they would need to make their way back down.”

While sporting and physical activities are allowed in alcohol advertising, the ASA states that the adverts must not imply that such activities have been carried out after the consumption of alcohol.

The ruling stated: “In this case, we considered the ad suggested that the activities would be undertaken after the consumption of alcohol and were therefore irresponsible. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.”

The advert received just one complaint, according to the ASA.

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