ASA Adjudication on Heineken UK Ltd
Heineken UK Ltd
2–4 Broad Park
South Gyle Broadway
19 September 2012
Television, Internet (video)
Number of complaints:
Summary of Council decision:
Three issues were investigated, all were Not upheld.
A TV ad and an ad on YouTube.com, for cider:
a. The TV ad began with a voice-over which stated "Introducing Bulmers Number 17... to launch it, we're rewarding experimental people." Fly-on-the-wall style footage then showed a man stopping people in the street and inviting them to a concert featuring his friend's band. Some were seen accepting, whilst others declined. The same man was then seen in a bar, where attendees of the concert had gathered. He announced "Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome my friend's band, Plan B!" and his announcement was greeted with cheers from the audience. Plan B was seen walking to the stage and placing a glass of the advertised product down on an amplifier before beginning his performance. Crowd shots showed the audience smiling, dancing and holding glasses of the advertised product aloft.
b. The ad on YouTube.com was the same as the TV ad.
1. Alcohol Concern, on behalf of the Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC), challenged whether the ads implied that Plan B's confidence had been increased and, by implication, his performance improved, by the consumption of alcohol.
The ASA challenged whether the ads:
2. were irresponsible, because they were likely to appeal strongly to people under 18; and
3. implied that the success of a social occasion depended on the presence or consumption of alcohol.
CAP Code (Edition 12)
1. Heineken UK Ltd (Heineken) said they had not made any suggestion, implied or explicit, that Plan B was lacking in confidence before or during his performance and that, as a well-established artist, playing to a small pub audience would be unlikely to cause him concern. They said Plan B was not seen consuming the product during his preparation and the ad did not imply he had done so beforehand. They accepted the ad showed Plan B putting down a full glass of the product upon taking the stage but they pointed out that he was not seen drinking the product and that, even if this could be implied, the fullness of the glass meant he could only have taken a small sip. They did not feel there was any suggestion that his performance was improved in any way, or that there was any change in mood or behaviour after he was seen putting down the product.
Clearcast said they did not think the ad implied that Plan B's confidence had been increased, or his performance improved, as he was not seen consuming any alcohol during the ad.
2. Heineken said the fan base and general appeal of Plan B and his music, were adult in nature, and they did not feel he was likely to appeal strongly to under 18-year-olds. They provided a quote from Plan B's record label advising that his audience was predominantly made up of males between 24 and 34 years of age and explained that his older fan demographic was reflected in his media profile and image. They also told us that Plan B's most recent album had been described in the media as having a "soul Motown style", which was not a genre they felt particularly attracted an under-18 audience. In addition, they pointed out that there was no juvenile or childish behaviour by Plan B, his band or members of the audience.
Clearcast said they had asked for a breakdown of the artist's fan base and appeal, prior to approving the ad. They had been advised that Plan B's audience was predominantly made up of males between 24 and 34 years of age and were satisfied that he was unlikely to appeal strongly to people under-18 and that his appeal was general.
3. Heineken told us the atmosphere of excitement and sociability in the ad was derived solely from the shared experience and pleasant surprise resulting from Plan B taking the stage, for those adults that had experimented and agreed to attend the event. Whilst they accepted that members of the audience were shown holding the product, they said very little actual consumption was shown and there was no portrayal of intoxication or rapid consumption. They said audience members were encouraged to participate by the actor on the basis that they would get to see a band, rather than by the offer of alcohol and that consumption was not a condition of participation for members of the audience. They felt that the portrayal of a pub scene in which some adults enjoyed an alcoholic drink, whilst watching a band, was reasonable, acceptable and proportionate in the context of the ad.
Clearcast said the success of the occasion was due to the elements of surprise and excitement, which arose because the audience did not know they were about to experience a well-known artist. They therefore felt the audience's reaction to Plan B's arrival was the key to the occasion's success, rather than the presence or consumption of alcohol.
1. Not upheld
Whilst the ASA acknowledged Plan B was seen putting down a glass of the product and that could be interpreted as implying he had consumed alcohol prior to his performance, we did not consider that anything in the ad suggested that he had been lacking in confidence to begin with, or that his performance had been improved by drinking alcohol. We therefore concluded that the ad did not irresponsibly imply that alcohol could contribute to confidence or improve performance.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility), 18.2 and 18.7 (Alcohol); and BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility), 19.3 and 19.8 (Alcohol) but did not find it in breach.
2. Not upheld
The ASA understood that Plan B had started his career as a hip hop artist but that he had subsequently released a soul album, which had been of more general appeal. We noted Plan B's record label had advised that his audience was predominantly males between 24 and 34 years of age, and that his recent media profile reflected a move towards an older audience. We considered that the image portrayed by Plan B in the ad was a mature one and that neither the music featured, his dress, or his behaviour were particularly juvenile or associated with youth culture. We therefore concluded that the ad was unlikely to have particular appeal for people under 18 years of age.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 18.14 (Alcohol); and BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility) and 19.15.1 (Alcohol) but did not find it in breach.
3. Not upheld
The ASA acknowledged the audience in the ad appeared to be excited and in high spirits, and that a large proportion of those present were shown holding glasses of the product. However, we considered it was clear that the excitement of the audience was derived from their surprise and pleasure at discovering they were going to watch a well-known artist, rather than an unknown band, as they had been led to believe by the actor who invited them. We considered that that was the key to the success of the social occasion portrayed, rather than the fact that alcohol had been consumed, and we further noted that little actual consumption of the product was shown. We concluded that the ad did not imply the success of the social occasion depended on the presence or consumption of alcohol.
On this point, we investigated the ad under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules 1.3 (Social responsibility) and 18.3 (Alcohol); and BCAP Code rules 1.2 (Social responsibility) and 19.4 (Alcohol) but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.