Heineken triumphs over Alcohol Concern, but Freixenet rapped

12 May, 2016

Heineken has prevailed in a dispute with Alcohol Concern, which complained to the advertising watchdog that a Bulmers promotion giving away trainers would appeal to underage drinkers.

The anti-alcohol charity argued that the Converse trainers the supplier was giving away could have “particular appeal to people under 18 years of age”.

Drinkers of Bulmers were encouraged to send in pictures of their cider in a bid to win the shoes as part of Heineken’s #LiveColourful promotion.

Heineken hit back, saying it was targeting 25 to 35-year-olds with the promotion and arguing that Converse trainers have broad appeal to a number of age groups.

The Advertising Standards Authority sided with Heineken after acknowledging that Converse has been making trainers since the 1920s.

It said: “Given the prize and the steps taken to limit access to the competition to over-18s, we concluded that the competition was not likely to be of particular appeal to people under 18.”

It referenced a study from research group TGI showing that 92% of people that buy Converse shoes are over 18 and did not uphold the complaint, meaning no further action is required.

Freixenet, however, fell foul of the watchdog for implying that alcohol is indispensable and is a key component in social success.

A complainant got in touch with the ASA after taking umbrage with outdoor digital loop advertising for the cava brand.

One poster featured a young couple dancing, with the product superimposed to the side of the image, and text at the top stated: “Be Freixenet”.

A second showed the same couple passionately kissing. Text on the brand’s website stated: “Life by Freixenet: Because life doesn’t just revolve about wine (or maybe it does).” Text on the blog page of the site added: “‘Be Freixenet’ is our new campaign that embraces a ‘carpe diem’ attitude … And what could be more enjoyable and authentic in life than celebrating all those life moments, no matter how big or small. Moments that might be made more fun with a bottle of Freixenet fizz. Somehow any moment is made just that bit more fun, just that bit more exciting and crazy, when it’s accompanied with our bubbles. Be spontaneous, be yourself … be Freixenet.”

The complainant argued that the ads breached the ASA Code of Practice because they linked alcohol with seduction, sexual activity or sexual success.

Freixenet argued that the posters were not overly sexual and the ASA agreed, throwing out this complaint.

But it upheld a complaint over the text on the website. The complainant said the claims made by Freixenet “implied alcohol might be indispensable or take priority in life” and “implied that drinking alcohol was a key component to the success of a personal relationship or social event”.

The ASA agreed, upheld the claims and said the text must never appear again on the Freixenet site.

It added: “We told Freixenet UK Ltd to ensure that future ads did not imply alcohol might be indispensable or take priority in life or that it was a key component of the success of a social event.”

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