A YouTube campaign for the alcoholic beverage Cell featuring free-runner Tim Shieff is declared as being in breach of the British voluntary Advertising Code by the self regulated Advertising Standards Authority (ASA). This because the campaign is attractive to minors, depicts people clearly under the age of 25 and because it links an alcohol product with dangerous activities. Consequently Cell Drinks has to remove the ad campaign. However, no further penalties were put on the company.

The ASA action follows complaints about three YouTube ads for the new vodka-based brand. The ads concentrating on a anti-spillage package also appeared on the brand’s Facebook page. One of these ads featured 23-year old free-runner Tim Schieff, free-running and jumping over buildings as well as break dancing while holding one of the Cell packages.

The voluntary Advertising Code states that under-25s should not be associated with drinking. This was reason for complaints about the ad featuring Schieff as well as another one. Another complaint states that the campaign was irresponsible because it associated alcohol ‘with bravado and dangerous behavior’ and also implied the drink could enhance physical capabilities. This last complaint was not upheld, the others were.

While it is a good thing the ads were pulled, this case also shows the weakness of self-regulation. If the ads wood have been in breach of legal regulations there’s a good chance that consequences would be harsher. For instance a substantial financial penalty or a temporary revoking of broadcasting licenses. That way, the alcohol industry would think twice before broadcasting ads which are clearly in breach of regulations. As it is, the ads got a lot of exposure before being pulled, the news of the measures may have drawn more attention to the product than the ads would have in and of itself and the producers see no consequences for their breaching the rules.

Source: Marketingweek.co.uk (08/03/11)

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