Glasgow nightclub The Garage has been forced to remove four ads from its Facebook page, after the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that they breached the codes for responsible advertising.
The ASA released an adjudication report on their website warning that, “the ads must not appear again in their current form.”
The ads were accused of advertising alcohol to under-18s, using images of women who appeared to be under 25 to advertise alcohol, and encouraging excessive drinking.
Two of the ads encouraged Facebook users to ‘like and share’ a post, with the chance of winning prizes such as alcoholic drinks and free entry to the club. This prompted concerns that the post could be seen by Facebook users under the age of 18.
Another promotion advertised a competition to win a trip to New York with Smirnoff Gold, with the instructions: “All you need to do is order a Smirnoff Gold or Applebite Gold from behind the bar! After buying 1, you simply fill out the card that comes with it, and pop it in a box. It’s that simple! 1 entry for every drink bought!” This was seen to promote excessive drinking.
In response to the complaints, the Garage provided statistics that 3% of people who liked their page are underage because of live music events hosted at the venue which anyone over the age of 14 can attend. In addition, they claimed that less than 25% of overall UK Facebook users are under the age of 18 and according to the Committees of Advertising Practice (CAP) Code rule 18.15, alcohol may not be advertised on a medium if more than 25% of its audience is under 18, therefore they were not breaching the regulations.
Regarding the Smirnoff Gold promotion, the Garage claimed that they were not encouraging excessive drinking as the poster featured the Drinkaware logo and that their staff are trained to monitor customers for excessive drinking. They also stated that the women featured in the images were Garage PR staff, all over the age of 18.
However after considering the Garage’s response, the Advertising Standards Authority decided to uphold the allegations. In their report on the matter they state that there is no evidence to prove that the final audience for the ads, after they had been liked and shared, comprised of less than 25% of people under 18, and the Garage could have restricted who sees the post, ensuring that only over-18s would be able to participate.
They also said that adverts for alcoholic drinks “should not show people who were, or appeared to be, under 25 years of age in a significant role.”
They concluded that the New York competition “encouraged participants to purchase, and consume, a number of drinks to improve their chances of winning”, therefore encouraging excessive consumption of alcoholic drinks.
Glasgow Guardian contacted the Garage but they were not willing to comment.