A Virgin Holidays poster advertising their “Travel Guru Services” was recently found by the ASA to be in breach of the CAP Code in relation to alcohol used in advertising. The ad depicts four rockstars in a jacuzzi full of champagne, with various bottles and glasses surrounding them and a female Virgin Holidays employee pouring champagne into the jacuzzi. The ASA (after one complaint was made), found that alcohol was prominently featured and that the ad and “indicated a casual attitude towards the handling and consumption of alcohol”, even though the ad was not specifically for an alcohol brand. It was also decided that the inclusion of rockstars in such a scenario could appeal to people under 18 and encourage them to drink.

Advertising agencies and their clients should take note that the CAP Code rules on the use of alcohol in advertising are indivisible. Using the example given in the ad discussed above for alcoholic drinks, even if an alcoholic drink is not being marketed directly (the ad is question was for Virgin’s travel services) inclusion within the ad means that the CAP Code rules in relation to alcoholic drinks will apply. When alcohol is featured in advertising, it must be shown in a socially responsible fashion and excessive consumption must not be encouraged, whether the ad is for the alcohol brand or not. When promoting a particular brand of alcohol, advertisers are advised consult, in addition to the CAP/BCAP Code, the Portman Group’s Code of Practice, and to consider using the DrinkAware logo in their ads.