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ASA calls time on alcopop ads

Authority shows its WKD side

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The second adjudication against Diageo Great Britain Ltd concerned "a range of Smirnoff Ice TV ads that all featured Uri, a chilled-out Eastern European loyal to Smirnoff Ice".

The ASA described the first in a series of seven thus:

The first ad showed Uri giving viewers a tour of his Arctic wilderness home saying My name is Uri and welcome to my house. Let me take you on a little tour. It's good ya [he warms his hands by a flat-screen computer monitor that showed a burning log fire]. Oooh [he watches a football match on a flat-screen TV hanging on the wall] My stereo. And this is my pride and joy, my refrigerator [he opens the door to the fridge and steps outside into the snow]. Nippy. Perfect temperature. This crazy boy here is my homeboy, Gorb. And this is the best thing about my place, the peace and quiet [he turns on his stereo to full volume]. Smirnoff Ice, brrrrr!

Diageo countered the alleged breach of rule 11.8.2 at some length, stressing it had "purposely chosen an entirely fictional male lead to avoid the use of existing celebrities", that "the heavy rock [soundtrack] from Quarashi, an Icelandic band not distributed in the UK, would have no youth appeal in the UK", and that it "had worked with a media-buying agency to ensure that a minimum of 75 per cent of the audience for the campaign was of legal purchase age or above".

Specifically regarding the ad outlined above, Diageo added that "the inspiration for the ad was the generic home improvement programme format on TV and they believed it was about a man having pride in his home, something that was more relevant to adults".

The adjudication notes: "Diageo maintained that interest in celebrities was not confined to young people. They argued that Uri and Gorb were not celebrities and the house tour was not of disproportionate appeal to under 18-year-olds. They said the ads mocked celebrity culture and parodied the obsession with how celebrities live by depicting a character who lives a distinctively unglamorous lifestyle. They maintained this satirical humour was clever, urbane and strikingly adult."

The ASA disagreed. Its assessment declared: "Despite Diageos careful scheduling, more than 92,000 under 18-year-olds viewed the ad. We considered that the rules were for the content of the ads, not the scheduling of them, and that targeting the ads so that the under 18s made up a low percentage of the audience did not mean the code did not apply."

The agency ruled:

We concluded that the characters were likely to become cult figures with strong appeal to under 18s and that all the ads that featured Uri or Gorb breached the CAP (Broadcast) TV Advertising Standards Code rule 11.8.2 (a) (Alcoholic drinks) and should not be shown again.

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