Date: 7.10.15

Drinks giant Heineken UK slapped by regulator for breaking advertising rules following Alcohol Concern complaint

Author: alcoholconcern


A complaint about irresponsible alcohol advertising has been upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following a complaint made by the Youth Alcohol Advertising Council, a group of young people working with the charity Alcohol Concern.

Heineken UK Ltd has been told their YouTube advert for Strongbow breached responsible advertising regulations.

The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council, who review alcohol advertising against key principles of the Advertising Standards Code, challenged whether the advert portrayed alcohol as indispensable or as taking priority in life.

The decision comes at the same time Heineken have also had to remove their Bulmer’s Cider promotion with Converse trainers following another complaint made by Alcohol Concern. All point of sale promotional material has been removed, and advertising has been ceased after it was agreed by the Portman Group that the nature of the advertising, visuals and competition appealed to children and young people.

Tom Smith, Head of Policy at Alcohol Concern said: “Not only is it appalling that a company such as Heineken UK, with marketing budgets of millions, is failing to comply with the advertising codes, but it’s left to young people to spot these adverts and highlight these failings.

“We already know that exposure to alcohol marketing increases drinking amongst children and young people. This age group spends more time online, particularly on social media than any other – where regulations aren’t monitored tightly enough.

“These big companies clearly can’t be trusted, so to better protect children and tackle patterns of alcohol harm, we need urgent reform of the alcohol advertising regime. We need regulation independent from the advertising and drinks industries, with consequences such as fines that genuinely deter companies from breaking the rules in the first place.”

In response to the ruling, Fiona Bruce MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Alcohol Harm, said: “It is absolutely critical that we protect young people from the effects of alcohol harm, to which they are particularly vulnerable as their organs are still developing.

“I pay tribute to the Youth Alcohol Advertising Council for taking this strong action, which is in line with a trend that increasingly young people are becoming aware of the impact of drinking too much, and indeed many are deciding not to drink at all in their teenage years. We know that the later you start drinking, the fewer problems are likely to occur. We need to give them as much support as possible.”
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Media contact Cara Barrett, cbarrett@alcoholconcern.org.uk / 020 7566 9803

The full adjudication by the ASA will be live on their website tomorrow.

Notes to editors
The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council are a group of young people from across England and Wales who meet quarterly to review current alcohol advertising against key principles of the Advertising Standards Code. The adverts reviewed have already had exposure, despite not complying with regulations.

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is the UK’s independent regulator for advertising across all media.
The Portman Group is the responsibility body for drinks producers in the UK – challenging and encouraging the drinks industry to market their products responsibly.

Please see here for the government strategy which states there’s a known link between advertising and people’s consumption of alcohol, particularly those under the age of 18 years.