The advert, broadcast in November 2015, showed various groups of women walking together to different bars, where they each consumed a glass of Baileys. The text on screen said ‘It’s not Christmas without you… Baileys.’
Alcohol Concern challenged whether this claim was irresponsible and implied that the success of the social occasion depended on alcohol.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) cleared the ad last week, saying that consumers would consider the slogan ‘It’s not Christmas without you’ as a play on words that referred to gathering with friends over the festive period, as well as referencing the drink’s traditional Christmas associations.
In the context of the advert, ‘Christmas’ would be taken to mean the season rather than a specific social occasion, it added.
Christmas: key time for Baileys sales
In its response to the advertising complaint, Diageo Great Britain said Baileys is traditionally associated with the Christmas season. 60% of all Baileys sales in Great Britain are made between October and December.
It said the claim ‘It’s not Christmas without you’ referred to the season as a time of tradition and family – and that the festivities would not be the same without friends and loved ones.
Diageo said the slogan suggested Baileys was one aspect of a traditional Christmas, given the product’s long-standing association with the season, rather than a reason for its ‘success.’
It also said the ad did not make any reference to excessive drinking, nor suggest that a party or specific social occasion would be a success as a result of alcohol.
ASA: ‘No suggestion that social occasions were dependent on Baileys’
The Broadcasting Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) Code prohibits ads from implying that the success of a social occasion depends on alcohol.
The ASA backed Diageo by saying that the ad referred to ‘Christmas’ as a season, not a specific social occasion.
“We noted the ad showed the women enjoying one drink together, and there was no suggestion that the individual social occasions were dependent on Baileys in order to be successful.
"Rather, the women appeared to be laughing and enjoying each other's company from the beginning of the ad before they had arrived at the bars or had been served any Baileys."
Diageo ran the £4.3m ($6.4m) ‘It’s not Christmas Without You’ campaign during November and December last year. As well as TV advertising, it included social media activity and sampling events at shopping centres, stores and Christmas markets.