Dram Shop Expert

Litigation Support and Expert Witness Services

‘Boozebulance’ ad for drinks delivery firm banned

‘Boozebulance’ ad for drinks delivery firm banned


Source: The Spirits Business

by Amy Hopkins

25th September, 2015


An advertisement for alcohol delivery service Drink Doctor has been banned for portraying alcohol as medical treatment and using terminology such as “boozebulance”.


The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has banned a Facebook advertisement by Manchester-based Drink Doctor for conflating alcohol and medicine, claiming alcohol was depicted as “necessary and indispensible”.


The watchdog received a complaint from a consumer who claimed the ad was “irresponsible” and “inappropriate” for using medical terms and imagery.


One image posted on the firm’s Facebook page featured a nurse and the numbers 999 highlighted in red. A second image showed a white van marked with Drinks Doctor’s branding and text stating “Boozebulance 24hr Booze & Balloon Delivery”.


Drinks Doctor said that it takes the “utmost” responsibility when dealing with customers, adding that linking medicine and alcohol was not intentional in the advert.


The company also said “Doctor” was incorporated into other brands’ names to “promote a professional and caring image, rather than trying to imply medical knowledge”.


While the ad did not violate Facebook’s terms, Drink Doctor apologised for any offence caused and stated that it was willing to amend its marketing going forward.


In its ruling, the ASA said that while consumers would understand the advertiser was not offering genuine medical assistance, these references presented alcohol as a product to be used in the same manner.


“We also considered that the name ‘Drink Doctor’ in itself contained the same implication by conflating the role of a medical professional with the provision of alcohol,” the ASA said.


“Marketing communications should not imply that alcohol has therapeutic qualities, and we considered that the use of medical imagery to market an alcohol delivery service carried such an implication.”


“We also considered that the image of the ‘boozebulance’ vehicle and the emphasised ‘999’ digits, in particular, carried the added implication of emergency assistance, and that alcohol was therefore something that was necessary and indispensable.”


The ASA has therefore ordered that the ad must not appear again in its current form and that Drink Doctor should ensure it does not imply alcohol is “indispensable or has therapeutic qualities” in its marketing.


Diageo is currently fighting to overturn a decision by the ASA to ban an advertisement for its Smirnoff vodka brand over concerns it breaches marketing laws.