Advertising rules state that marketing communications must not be likely to appeal particularly to people under 18 and should not feature or portray real or fictitious characters who are likely to particularly appeal to people under 18 in a way that might encourage the young to drink.
Marketers should be careful if they wish to feature toys or toy brands that are familiar to children. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint about an ad which featured a character made from Lego-like bricks. The ad, for a late night alcohol delivery service, stated “FRANKS … SOLUTIONS FOR 24 HR PARTY PEOPLE” and featured the character urinating onto a brick. Although the ad stated “STRICTLY OVER 18’S ONLY”, the ASA considered that Lego was familiar to most children and therefore that the image of a Lego-like man was likely to appeal to children. It concluded that the image was socially irresponsible when used in an ad for an alcoholic drinks delivery service (Frank Solutions, 6 August 2008).
Marketers should also exercise caution when using cartoon-like images in alcohol ads. Whilst this might be acceptable if the images are adult in nature, marketers run the risk of appealing to young people if cartoon images are too childish in their execution. In 2008, the ASA rejected a complaint that a poster which showed three cartoon characters in a bar was likely to appeal particularly to children. Whilst it acknowledged that the use of cartoons might generally appeal to children, it accepted that the stylised nature of the drawing and the sardonic tone of the text had more in common with a satirical political cartoon than a brightly coloured child’s cartoon (Cobra Beer Ltd, 24 September 2008). Conversely, in 2014, the ASA upheld a complaint about a TV ad which featured a colourful animated parrot in a tropical setting, who was shown being frozen and squawking, because the imagery and slapstick humour were likely to appeal strongly to children (Diageo Great Britain Ltd t/a Parrot Bay, 15 October 2014).
Source: Committee of Advertising Practice (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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