Beverage Brands was told to remove the Mugshots section from its WKD website showing photos of promotional staff posing with members of the public at WKD-sponsored events after Portman’s independent complaints panel received a complaint from Alcohol Concern.
The panel agreed that the photos associated the product with social and sexual success and showed people who looked under 25 who may be drunk.
Portman chief executive David Poley said: “With the growing popularity of websites, it is crucial that images shown are appropriate. It is common for companies to use pictures in promotional materials of consumers enjoying their drink. But, in doing so, they should avoid showing anyone who may be drunk or looks under 25 and they must not imply that drinking makes people socially or sexually successful.”
Beverage Brands has since removed the section from its website, but said the photos were displayed in "good faith" and similar ones were common on a number of drinks brands websites.
Marketing director Karen Salters said: “In view of the fact that the images on the WKD website are not unusual in any way and are no different to those posted on other alcohol drinks brands’ sites we see this not as an issue for the WKD website in isolation, but as an example of how the code is interpreted generally within the industry.”
A special “help note” has been created for companies with websites to ensure content does not go against the code of practice on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks.
“Beverage Brands has moved quickly to change the website but the panel’s decision has ramifications for the rest of the industry. Our new help note should enable companies to stay on the right side of the code. We urge marketers to consult this and, if in doubt, to approach our advisory service for confidential advice,” said Poley.
Salters said the Portman's new guidelines were welcomed.