Laphroaig’s latest ad cleared of linking alcohol with sexual activity

Scotch whisky label Laphroaig has been cleared of linking alcohol with sexual activity and portraying alcohol as indispensable in its latest television advert.

The advert, which was first aired at the end of October 2020, was entitled ‘You’ll Always Remember Your First Laphroaig” and is part of the brand’s Opinions Welcome campaign, which was first launched in 2014.

The ad depicts people trying their first dram of Laphroaig, focusing in on their facial expressions during the process.

Developed in partnership with creative agency Warp & Woof, the advert ran across video on demand platforms including Sky Go, ITV and All 4, as well as Facebook and Instagram.

A complainant contacted the Advertising Standards Authority claiming the ad was irresponsible as it linked alcohol with sexual activity, both in the wording and facial expressions of those depicted, including a slow motion close-up of a man with his eyes closed and mouth slightly open. It was also noted that the ad could be seen to portray alcohol as indispensable, with one man looking at his glass of whisky and stating “I think I love you”.

Responding to the complaint, Edrington-Beam Suntory UK said the taste of Laphroaig “often evoked strong reactions”. The company added that the introduction “removed ambiguity about what ‘your first’ meant” and that the facial expressions shown depicted a range of emotions.

It stressed that the ‘I think I love you’ line was a “genuine reaction” and was not portraying the drink as indispensable. Clearcast, an agency which clears ads for the UK’s main commercial channels, also found no cause for concern.

In its ruling, the ASA sided with Edrington-Beam Suntory.

The ruling stated: “We noted the reference to “You’ll always remember your first” alongside the facial expressions, which showed various reactions after tasting the whisky, including surprise and displeasure. We recognised that another potential interpretation of that might be a reference to losing one’s virginity. However, we considered that the claim could also be taken to refer to other ‘firsts’.

“In any case, we considered that the overall impression of the ad was that it was an illustration of the different reactions people had encountering a distinctive taste for the first time, and it did not imply any link between drinking Laphroaig whisky and sexual activity, sexual success or seduction.

“Given that the ad was centred on people’s reactions to the taste of the whisky, we considered that the statement “I think I love you” combined with the man’s happy facial expression while looking at his glass of whisky was likely to be seen as a light-hearted expression of his enjoyment of the whisky’s flavour. We therefore considered that the ad did not portray alcohol as being indispensable.”

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