Dram Shop Expert

Litigation Support and Expert Witness Services

Smirnoff vodka advert banned by regulator

Smirnoff vodka advert banned by regulator


Source: The Spirits Business

by Amy Hopkins

8th July, 2015


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


The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) recently ruled that the television advertisement, launched last year as part of Smirnoff’s new £15 million UK marketing campaign, implied social success was “dependent” on alcohol.


With the tagline “Filter the unnecessary, keep the good stuff”, the advert depicts a visitor entering a bar where people are looking unfriendly. But when the bartender pours vodka and mixer into a glass the atmosphere becomes brighter, music starts to play and people smile at each other.


However Diageo Great Britain said it was the removal of “pretentious items” when the bar “tilted” which created a “warm, friendly atmosphere”, as opposed to the presence of alcohol.


The group’s defence was also echoed by advertising services company Clearcast.


The ASA noted that while the bar “tilting” symbolised a “filtering” of pretentious personalities and attitudes, “immediately” after the visitor ordered an alcoholic drink the atmosphere of the bar changed.


As such, the regulator said the advertisement breached BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility) and 19.4 (Alcohol).


“We considered the ad’s presentation implied that before the visitor asked for an alcoholic drink, the bar was cold and uninviting and that once his drink had been ordered, the bar changed and became livelier and more fun,” the ASA said.


“We considered the contrast between the two implied it was the presence of the alcohol that was the pivotal point in the bar’s transformation.


“We therefore considered the ad implied that the success of the occasion ? the night out at the bar ? depended on the presence of alcohol. Consequently, we concluded the ad breached the code.”


The ASA has ordered that the advertisement should not be broadcast again in its current form. Diageo will now appeal the ruling.


Julie Bramham, marketing director for Smirnoff, said: “We are deeply disappointed by the ASA’s conclusion and will be appealing the decision.


“We believe the advert clearly showed two scenarios that were separated by a physical change of the bar symbolising the ‘filtering’ of unnecessary pretentiousness, and not by the presence of alcohol.


“Pre-approval was granted by Clearcast and we will await the decision of the ASA’s appeal process.”


Last year, Diageo was rapped by the ASA twice for its Captain Morgan rum Facebook and television promotions, which the regulator deemed “irresponsible”.