The advert, dated March 8, 2017, featured a picture of a group of young people dancing in a club. The image showed several people with their heads tilted back, drinking from bottles of VK.
At the top of the image, text stated ‘drinkaware.co.uk for the facts’. The caption of the post stated “Here’s a #TipTuesday for ya… VK is always better with your squad” followed by two ‘stickout tongue’ emojis.
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the image of people drinking from bottles 'with their heads tilted far back' could be associated with the culture of downing drinks, particularly when considered in the context of a group setting. It concluded that the “overall impression of the image was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise”.
VK is a range of RTD alcoholic drinks from Global Brands Ltd, with the seven flavors all mixed to 4% ABV.
The image in question was user generated content that university students had sent to VK.
Target age group
Global Brands Ltd defended the ad, saying that the bottles in the ad were over half full and therefore did not promote excessive drinking.
However, the ASA concluded that the person at the front of the image appeared to have an empty bottle, thus suggesting that the group was at different stages in downing their drinks.
“We therefore considered that the overall impression of the image was likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise,” it said.
The ASA also challenged whether the image breached the CAP Code because it featured people drinking alcohol who appeared to be under 25 years old.
Global Brands said that VK was predominantly drunk by students and so their target audience was aged between 18 and 25. It said that the club in question was only accessible to over 18 year olds, and its advertising was strictly targeted to users over the age of 18.
However, as the CAP Code says that people shown drinking should not be under 25, the ASA said the ad consequently breached the code.
The ASA ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form, and told VK to ensure that ads do not encourage unwise drinking styles or feature people who look under 25 years of age in a significant role.
Global Brands has responded to the decision, saying: “We accept the ASA ruling and will ensure this image is removed from all marketing platforms. We will continue to ensure we adhere and work closely alongside ASA codes.”