Marketers must take care if using a celebrity to promote their product, especially if that celebrity is likely to be seen as a role model by the young. The Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code prohibits marcoms from associating alcohol with people under 18 or reflecting their culture. They must not feature or portray real or fictitious characters who are likely to appeal particularly to people under 18 in a way that might encourage them to drink (Rule 18.14). Featuring or referring to celebrities like Nicole Scherzinger or Leona Lewis who are known for being pop singers, associated with the X-Factor, is therefore likely to be problematic (Maxxium UK Ltd, 12 December 2012). However, in 2012 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) held that Plan B did not have a particular appeal to young people after considering his media profile, the demographic of his fan base, and the way he was portrayed in the ad (Heineken UK Ltd, 19 September 2012).
Marketers should not use celebrities to promote their product if they are under the age of 25. In 2011 one marketer used free runner Tim Shieff, who was 23 years old when the ad ran. Despite not being shown drinking the ASA noted that Shieff played a significant role in the ad and because he was under 25 the ASA ruled against it (Cell Drinks, 3 August 2011).
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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