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Jack Daniel’s removes ‘irresponsible’ Tube ad

A Jack Daniel’s poster on the London Underground has been banned by the UK’s advertising watchdog for encouraging people to drink earlier.

Jack Daniel's ad
Jack Daniel’s debuted its global campaign, Make it Count, in 2020

The UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received a complaint over a poster for Tennessee whiskey brand Jack Daniel’s, seen on the London Underground on 16 November 2023.

The ad featured a group of friends sat around a table with two of them pouring Jack Daniel’s and a mixer into one glass, while the others were seen holding glasses of the whiskey.

The poster came with large text that read ‘Shorter days mean we can skip to the good part’ alongside smaller text at the bottom that said ‘Jack Daniel’s: Make it count’. There was also a line underneath that stated ‘Remember the good parts. Please drink responsibly.’

The complaint challenged whether the ad was irresponsible and breached the ASA’s Code because it promoted adopting drinking styles that were unwise, implied that alcohol might take priority in life, and inferred that drinking alcohol could overcome boredom by encouraging people to start drinking earlier in the day.

In response to the complaint, Jack Daniel’s owner Brown-Forman said the ad was part of a campaign that aimed to depict groups of people in different scenarios. The US firm launched a global campaign for Jack Daniel’s, called Make it Count, in 2020.

Brown-Forman said the Tube poster showed a social occasion and highlighted that the number of drinks featured were not excessive in number or size. The company also claimed the large text referred to spending time with friends, and that as daytime hours decreased there was a feeling that it became the evening earlier on in the day. As such, Brown-Forman believed an individual’s working day was over sooner, allowing more more time for socialising with friends.

However, the ASA contemplated that ‘shorter days’ referred to the end of British Summer Time and a return to Greenwich Mean Time, when there are fewer hours of daylight. The ASA also considered consumers would link ‘the good part’ to drinking and that the ad implied alcohol consumption could “overcome the boredom of the rest of the day”.

The ASA noted that the ‘good part’ reference “reinforced the impression that drinking alcohol was the most enjoyable part of the day and that it therefore took priority in life”.

In its defence, Brown-Forman said the poster’s reference to drinking responsibly served to remind consumers to not over-consume alcohol.

The ASA ruled the poster must not appear in this form again, and that future adverts must not lead people to adopt unwise drinking styles or imply that alcohol could overcome boredom.

Brown-Forman confirmed the ad has been removed from the London Underground network.

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