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    Regulator raps Camden Town Brewery, AU Vodka over ‘irresponsible’ ads

    Camden Town Brewery, Enfield (Photo: The wub via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0)

    The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has upheld complaints against Camden Town Brewery and AU Vodka, ruling that the ads concerned must not appear again in their current form.

    A TV ad by the London-based Camden Town Brewery, owned by AB InBev, has been found to be appealing to people under 18 years of age, violating the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) Code.

    In the case of AU Vodka, the regular said three Instagram posts as part of its “The Vodfather” series have breached the provisions of the CAP Code that bars showing or referring to aggressive behaviour and linking alcohol with tough and daring people and behaviour. One of the posts also found to be linking alcohol to illicit drugs.

    Camden Town Brewery said they had reviewed the ad, featuring animated characters in a pub, to ensure compliance with the BCAP Code, with particular focus on the rule relating to appeal to those under 18 years old.

    The brewery claimed that the ad had a very clear adult tone throughout, arguing that the inclusion of animated characters alone would not make an ad of strong appeal to minors.

    However, the ASA noted that other aspects of the ad were more playful and child-like and said younger viewers were likely to find that imagery engaging, concluding it was irresponsible and breached the Code.

    Regulator raps Camden Town Brewery, AU Vodka over ‘irresponsible’ ads
    AU Vodka Pink Lemonade (Photo: auvodka.co.uk)

    AU Vodka said the intention behind “The Vodfather” campaign was to advertise their new Pink Lemonade product and to entertain and engage their target audience through light-hearted and comedic sketches.

    The brand said the ads were intended as exaggerated humour and were not intended to promote or endorse actual aggressive behaviour, and they believed their customers would understand that.

    The brand also refuted the charge of linking alcohol with illicit drugs, saying the ad focused on showcasing the unique qualities and characteristics of their alcohol brand, but in particular their AU Vodka Pink Lemonade product.

    The brand said the references in the ad to “the Pink” was a reference to their Pink Lemonade product, and that the references to “the gear” was also a direct reference to the product, which consumers would understand from the context in the ad. While the brand acknowledged that “gear” was a term that had various meanings, including being a slang term for drugs, it argued that, in the overall context and tone of the ad, consumers would not interpret it as a reference to drugs.

    The ASA acknowledged Au Vodka’s comment that the ads were intended to be perceived in a light-hearted manner. However, because they showed and referred to aggressive behaviour, and linked alcohol with tough and daring people and behaviour, the regulator concluded that they did not comply with the Code rules on alcohol advertising and were irresponsible as a result.

    The ASA agreed that the ad in question did not show drug use or anything which resembled illegal substances, but they noted that the ad made several references to illicit drugs through the imagery and phrases used.

    The ruling said these references constituted a link between alcohol and illicit drugs.

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