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Complaint against WKD’s emoji use dismissed

A complaint claiming the use of emojis on WKD’s Twitter feed was likely to “particularly appeal” to people under the age of 18 has not been upheld.

wkd
The complaint alleged the use of emojis on WKD’s Twitter feed would appeal to under-18s

The Youth Alcohol Advertising Council challenged a Tweet posted on the @WKDOfficial feed in May 2016 which stated, ‘our WKD tech team are trying to make your emoji dreams a reality’ with a picture of a phone screen showing an exchange of messages.

The first read ‘Gonna be a gr8 nite’ and an image of three small blue bottles, and the response featured an image of two small red bottles and a ‘face with tears of joy’ emoji.

However, WKD argued that emojis are “an ageless, common form of communication” that did not have particular appeal to under 18s, and are often used by a variety of brands to communicate with adults.

WKD, owned by UK company Beverage Brands, added that they saw emojis as being interchangeable with exclamation marks and words, with the benefit of reducing the use of characters.

To bolster their argument, WKD cited a magazine article which stated that 92% of the UK population (including four out of five of those aged between 18 and 65) used emojis on a regular basis, and a report which said Twitter was a media platform where 84% of users were over 18.

In addition, the brand confirmed the WKD Twitter page was protected by an age gate, where users were asked to submit their date of birth.

The complaint was not upheld by the ASA, who said in the report: “The CAP Code stated that alcohol ads must not be likely to appeal particularly to people under 18, especially by reflecting or being associated with youth culture.

“The ASA acknowledged WKD’s comment that the content of their Twitter page was targeted at those who declared themselves to be 18 years and over. However, we considered that the content nevertheless should not have particular appeal to under-18s.

“We considered emojis were likely to have appeal across many age groups including, because of their cartoon-like appearance, those under 18. However, we considered they were not likely to have particular appeal to under-18s by reflecting or being associated with youth culture and concluded that the ad therefore did not breach the Code.”

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