Ads for Vodka and E-Cigarettes Flout U.K. Rules

The Advertising Standards Authority Bans Offending Work

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VIP e-cigarette ad
VIP e-cigarette ad
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Ads for alcohol and e-cigarettes have been banned by the U.K.'s Advertising Standards Authority regulatory body this week, just as marketing for the festive party season reaches its peak.

A print ad for Moët Hennessy's Belvedere Vodka -- recently announced as James Bond's official spirits brand partner for the forthcoming film "Spectre" -- has been banned for being socially irresponsible.

The national print execution, by BBDO New York, is part of the brand's #knowthedifference campaign. It features a group of friends on a night out, posing on a sofa for a group photo, with a woman draped across three men's laps. The caption reads, "There's a night out. And there's a night out. Belvedere Vodka. Know the difference."

Consumers complained to the ASA that the ad was irresponsible because it implied that drinking alcohol was a key component of a night out. Moët Hennessy U.K. said in its defense that the characters, pictured at a house party, were not shown to be drinking and didn't appear to be drunk.

Belvedere Print Ad
Belvedere Print Ad

However, the ASA ruled that because a picture of Belvedere Vodka was superimposed on the main image, the implication was that alcohol had been consumed before the picture was taken, making alcohol a part of the scene. The ASA also considered that the strapline, "There's a night out. And there's a night out" sent the message that a night with Belvedere Vodka is better than a night without it.

E-cigarettes are also under fire, with the ASA banning TV commercials by two brands.

VIP was the first e-cigarette to take advantage of a recent relaxation in British advertising regulations to allow vaping to be shown in TV advertising, marking the first cigarette advertising on U.K. TV since 1965. However, two spots in the campaign were banned for glamorizing smoking, because of the "sultry and glamorous way" in which the woman was shown to be vaping.

Another TV ad, for KiK e-cigarettes, showed a group of adults using and discussing KiK products in an outdoor restaurant, with one man saying he preferred them to normal cigarettes. The spot was banned for encouraging smoking--a more heinous offense because the man was a former smoker who had kicked the habit but then took up vaping.