ASA rules Scottish Gin Society posts ‘irresponsible’

5th September, 2018 by Nicola Carruthers

The Scottish Gin Society has removed a series of “light-hearted” Facebook posts after the UK’s advertising watchdog ruled they promoted excessive drinking and linked alcohol to sexual success.

The Scottish Gin Society has come under fire for linking alcohol to sexual success

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) upheld a complaint by Aberdeenshire Alcohol and Drug Partnership (ADP) over 10 Facebook posts on The Scottish Gin Society page.

The ADP challenged whether the messages were irresponsible because they encouraged excessive drinking, implied alcohol had therapeutic qualities and questioned whether comparative nutrition claims complied with the relevant code.

It also claimed two posts, including one that suggested gin could “make you look better naked”, linked alcohol to sexual success.

One of the posts read: “This gin and tonic has 91 calories. A banana has 105 calories. My doctor told me to make the healthy choice. I love my doctor.”

While another post, that included an image from an editorial post about period pain, said: “The medicinal qualities of gin are never-ending it seems… All the more reason to make sure you’re stocked up!”

One post (pictured above), dated 27 December 2017, read: “Healthy eating and exercise make you look better naked. So does gin. Your choice.”

The ASA considered the posts fell within the code’s remit and upheld the complaint.

For three of the postings, it ruled: “Although those viewing the posts would understand the intention behind them as light-hearted and humorous, we nonetheless considered they had the effect of condoning and encouraging excessive drinking.”

The ASA also admitted the captions were presented in a “light-hearted” tone, but concluded the code had been breached because the ads “suggested that gin had therapeutic qualities and could help to treat health conditions”.

In response, The Scottish Gin Society said they did not consider the Facebook posts as advertisements and believed that they did not fall within the remit of the code.

The society added that the majority of the content was from third-party posts.

“Many of the posts the ASA have selected are either re-posts of amusing memes or simply links to articles from external news or blog articles,” The Scottish Gin Society said in a statement.

“We did, and still do feel, that these should not fall under ASA remit and would also like to point out that no ‘ban’ has been enforced on us.

“Importantly, we see this as a warning to other social or community Facebook pages, who, following this ruling, may also be at risk of negative rulings by the ASA.

“While we have a light-hearted and fun personality, we do not think gin has magical or medical qualities, nor would we ever condone irresponsible or unhealthy consumption. It was never our intention to upset or offend anyone.”

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