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ASA Adjudication on Virgin Holidays Ltd

Virgin Holidays Ltd

The Galleria
Station Road
Crawley
West Sussex
RH10 1WW

Date:

29 September 2010

Media:

Poster

Sector:

Holidays and travel

Number of complaints:

1

Complaint Ref:

131848

Ad

A poster for Virgin Holidays at a London underground station showed four rockstars drinking champagne in a jacuzzi. There were a number of empty bottles and glasses lying by the jacuzzi. One of the rockstars and a female staff member were pouring champagne into the jacuzzi. The text stated "ROCKSTAR SERVICE. Book a stunning Hip Hotel in one of the world's most incredible destinations and Virgin Holidays' unique Travel Guru service will ensure your every desire is met".

Issue

The complainant objected to the way alcohol was portrayed in the ad, because they believed it promoted the misuse of alcohol.

CAP Code (Edition 11)

Response

Virgin Holidays (Virgin) said they did not believe the ad was encouraging consumers to adopt an unwise drinking style. They said the rationale behind the Rockstar campaign was to emphasise that a customer's every desire could be met, and the campaign featured ads focusing on ridiculous desires being met.

Virgin said a jacuzzi filled with champagne was an example of the most outlandish and decandent request that someone might make of the service, exaggerated to show the level of service provided. The emphasis was on the champagne filled jacuzzi request and not on drinking, which was why the champagne was being poured into the jacuzzi and not glasses or mouths.

Assessment

Upheld

The ASA understood that Virgin's intention was to emphasise the extent and level of service provided by the Travel Guru service. However, we noted that rockstars were widely accepted as glamorous and exciting figures, and that the ad depicted these rockstars in a scene that featured alcohol prominently.

We noted that the four rockstars in the ad were drinking in a party scene, with one rockstar holding two glasses of champagne at once, one pouring a bottle into the jacuzzi, and another tipping a glass back behind his head, which clearly implied that they had also been drinking the champagne. As well as the two bottles being poured into the jacuzzi, the ad featured five empty bottles and two other glasses lying beside the jacuzzi. While we understood this could be interpreted as empty bottles left from filling the jacuzzi, we considered that the number of bottles in the scene, with some tipped over and with roughly torn labels, and a character with more than one glass in his hand, indicated a casual attitude towards the handling and consumption of alcohol.

We concluded that the scene depicted in the ad, and actions of the glamorous characters in it, was likely to appeal to people under 18 years of age and encourage people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise.

The ad breached CAP Code clauses 56.2 and 56.7 (Alcoholic drinks).

Action

The ad must not appear again. We advised Virgin to take more care when they featured the use of alcohol in future ads.

Adjudication of the ASA Council (Non-broadcast)

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