Alcohol: Handling and serving

Mar 9th '22

Ads featuring alcohol must not show it being handled or served irresponsibly. This relates not only to the number and size of the measures poured, but also the way in which they are poured. Showing the serving of alcohol being treated very casually or being free poured flamboyantly and with little regard is unlikely to be acceptable. See also Alcohol: Unwise or Excessive Consumption.


Historically, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) considered that alcohol being poured from two bottles into large glasses alongside the caption “How many bottles would you need to last the whole night?” was seen to depict irresponsible handling and serving due to the casual nature with which the large volume of alcohol was being served (Hi Spirits Ltd, May 2013). Similarly, showing alcohol being poured directly into someone’s mouth is unlikely to comply with the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code (Au Vodka Ltd, 30 June 2021, Sam Welply, 26 February 2014).


In 2017, the ASA as investigated an ad for a club night, which featured an image of a young woman with her tongue out being served alcohol through the eye. The ASA understood that consuming alcohol in this way, known as “eyeballing”, came with associated health risks, and, as the ad showed irresponsible pouring, as well as sexual objectification of the woman, the complaint was upheld (Harvey Herdman t/a Coco Beach Mondays, 9 August 2017).


Marketers are also reminded that, as with other rules in the Alcohol section, this applies whenever alcohol is featured or referred to in an ad, even if it isn’t directly advertising an alcoholic drink. In 2021, the ASA upheld complaints about Instagram posts for “drinks funnels/snorkels”, which allowed the wearer to drink large amounts of alcohol in one go (The Chop Shop, 22 December 2021).


See also Alcohol: GeneralAlcohol: Targeting and Appeal to Under 18sAlcohol: Featuring Under 25sAlcohol: Unwise or Excessive Consumption and Alcohol: Juvenile or adolescent behaviour.


Source: CAP


Note: This advice is given by the CAP Executive about non-broadcast advertising. It does not constitute legal advice. It does not bind CAP, CAP advisory panels or the ASA. CAP’s Advice Online entries provide guidance on interpreting the UK Code of Non-broadcast Advertising and Direct & Promotional Marketing.


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