Smirnoff row leads to Facebook changes

8th August, 2012 by Becky Paskin

A landmark ruling in Australia could forever change the way spirit brands around the world are able to use Facebook.

Advertising on Smirnoff's Facebook page

Smirnoff’s case may change the way spirits can use Facebook forever

Spirit brands in the country are being made responsible for any inappropriate comments made by members of the public on their Facebook pages, following a row between Smirnoff and the Australian Advertising Standards Bureau (ASB).

The board has ruled that posts made to a Facebook page are classed as advertising, regardless of whether they’re from the company or a member of the public.

Complaints made against comments and photographs uploaded by both Smirnoff and members of the public to the Diageo-owned vodka brand’s Facebook page have resulted in the landmark ruling in Australia.

Content such as photos alleged to depict excessive consumption, sexism, racism and ‘other forms of discrimination or vilification’, and ‘material that connects alcohol consumption with sexual prowess’, were viewed by complainants to be against the country’s Alcoholic Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC).

But while the ASB couldn’t find fault with any images or comments posted on the page, it agreed that as a Facebook page is a marketing communication tool, the ABAC should be applicable.

“As a Facebook page can be used to engage with customers, the Board further considered that the Code applies to the content generated by the advertisers as well as material or comments posted by users or friends,” it said in its findings.

The decision is expected to be the first of many similar rulings in countries around the world.

Facebook advertising

Smirnoff however argued that as Facebook is a communication medium like TV or radio, it wasn’t fair to class all content as advertising.

“Facebook, just like television and radio, is a platform for engaging with people in a myriad of different ways (e.g. advertising, relationship building, and entertainment),” the brand said in a statement. “It therefore follows that Facebook fan pages and the content they contain should not be assessed as traditional, paid-for advertising.

“We also wish to note that a Facebook fan page can be created at no cost to an individual or brand owner. Supplementary activities are charged at a cost, but the content under complaint is in fact free content.”

The complaint also drew attention to the fact that under-18s are able to access alcohol advertising, follow a brand and post on its wall, causing speculation as to whether Facebook will implement an age-verification wall similar to that used by alcohol brands on Twitter.

The Twitter age verification app, launched in July, forces new followers of alcohol brands in the US to enter their date of birth before they can be accepted as a follower.

Leave a Reply

If that's interesting, how about these?

Television's top 10 spirits drinkers

From political sitcoms to cutting-edge dramas, many of television's most more...

World’s ‘oldest’ rum encased in watch

Polish collector’s club Wealth Solutions and Swiss watch manufacturer more...

Diageo to de-list debt on NY Stock Exchange

Diageo is planning to voluntarily de-list certain debt securities from the New more...

Redsmith brings distilling back to Nottinghamshire

Nottinghamshire’s first gin distillery to open in more than 100 years – more...

Double-digit sales growth for United Spirits

India’s United Spirits has reported net sales growth of 13% in 2015/16 more...

US whiskey brands 'pushing envelope' of flavour

Far from being reliant on its core expressions, American whiskey is seeking to more...

Haig limited edition gets ‘sensory’ activation

Diageo Global Travel & Middle East has hosted a series of large-scale more...

Asia to drive beverage consumption over 5 years

Asia will claim two-thirds of the world's incremental beverage consumption by more...

Europe's 'first' specialist baijiu bar opens

China’s native spirit baijiu has been given its own dedicated pop-up bar in more...

Scots drink 41 bottles of vodka at home a year

Alcohol consumption in Scotland is on the rise with the equivalent of 41 more...

Bhakta 'thrown off' WhistlePig board

WhistlePig Rye Whiskey founder Raj Bhakta has been “thrown off” of the more...

Beam Suntory names CFO amid new structure

Beam Suntory has named John Owen as its new chief financial officer at the same more...

Ice cream hangover 'cure' hits South Korean shops

A convenience store chain in South Korea has launched an ice cream bar that more...

The week in pictures

Jack Whitehall and David Beckham sip cocktails in the first instalment of a more...

Stoli backs Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie

Stolichnaya Vodka has partnered with Fox Searchlight Pictures for the launch of more...

People 'happier when drinking alcohol'

New research has revealed people are "happier at the moment of drinking more...

Smirnoff unveils 'official vodka of freedom'

Diageo has launched the “official vodka of freedom” in time for summer – more...

Evan Williams unveils veteran-inspired design

Evan Williams Bourbon is celebrating American war veterans this summer with a more...

Bacardi’s Facundo Rum lands in travel retail

Luxury travel retailer DFS Group has listed Bacardi’s four-piece Facundo Rum more...

Greece ‘considers’ raising excise tax

The Greek government is considering raising the excise tax on spirits in an more...