An alcohol billboard campaign using cartoon-style illustrations aimed at young people has been ruled out of bounds by the Advertising Standards Authority. In support of an appeal lodged by Alcohol Healthwatch, the ASA Appeals Board overturned a previous ASA decision that allowed the advertisements. The Appeal Board ruled that the DB Export “Summer’s Here” billboards campaign was in breach of Principle 4 of the voluntary Advertising Codes of Practice. The Appeal Board found that the advertisements did have “strong or evident appeal to minors in particular” and as such there was sufficient evidence to effect a breach of the codes.
Alcohol Healthwatch Director Rebecca Williams believes that while this decision is a positive step for protecting children and young people from alcohol targeting, the self-regulating process is a nonsense given the time it takes to get an advertisement out of circulation. By the time a ruling is made on a complaint from the public the advertisement has run its course and done its job. There is some consolation in that future adverting may have a higher benchmark. However this is cold comfort while huge glossy billboards or television advertisements continue with their questionable drinking messages.
Alcohol Healthwatch believes the only way to prevent alcohol advertising appealing to young people is to stop it altogether. Advertising that glamorises alcohol is known to influence young drinkers. The earlier drinking starts, the greater the risk of problems later on. Given the increasing trend of harmful youth drinking and its sometimes tragic results the subject of alcohol advertising and sponsorship must be back on the political agenda sooner rather than later .
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