Major brands face ABAC
Some of Australia’s largest breweries and brands have faced complaints regarding alleged appeal to minors in the latest round of ABAC adjudications.
Boozebud, Lion and Carlton & United Breweries all faced various complaints in regards to minors, as did Banks Brewing. Meanwhile, Better Beer and Hello Drinks were critiqued over marketing which a complainant argued positioned their products as beneficial in terms of health and wellbeing.
Better Beer, which is currently facing a brand battle with Brick Lane, faced a complaint last December concerning a social media post from joint venture partner Inspired Unemployed’s Instagram page. The post consisted of a video showing various people in different settings, drinking from a can of Better Beer, before moaning. One of the people in the video was riding a bike. The caption for the post read, “Yep, it’s that good” before tagging Better Beer’s Instagram handle.
The complainant said the post breached the code as it suggested drinking the beer would lead to “having a sexual therapeutic benefit” and that it was promoting “reckless and illegal behaviour” by showing someone riding a bike while drinking the beer.
The company responded to the complaint by stating the post would be taken down from the Inspired Unemployed page and also noted that the video itself was not present on the Better Beer Instagram page, nor was it formally approved by Better Beer.
The panel decided to uphold the complaint in relation to the bike rider as it breached part of its code which states that marketing must not show the consumption of alcohol during any activity that requires a high level of alertness.
However, the panel chose to dismiss the sexualisation complaint as all people were shown fully clothed, no physical activity was depicted that is sexual in nature and it could be generally understood that the video was an exaggeration of tasting the product rather than promoting sexual fulfilment.
Delivery company Boozebud also faced a complaint regarding a mural which was placed near a primary school in New South Wales.
The complainant explained that while the location had been used before for alcohol advertising, this specific mural was depicted as “a children’s cartoon” and therefore deemed it as inappropriate for the location.
The ABAC code specifically states that alcohol marketing must not appeal to minors or be directed at minors through a breach of placement rules.
Boozebud responded to the complaint and stated that while the company isn’t a signatory to the ABAC code, it specifically received ABAC pre-approval for the mural. They also noted that the mural doesn’t breach placement rules as it is placed 550 metres away from the school.
The panel agreed and chose to dismiss the complaint.
Lion faced an ABAC panel in regards to a television advertisement for its White Claw seltzers. The ad in question aired during a stream of Sunrise on the 7plus app and featured black and white images of people skateboarding, playing volleyball and sitting on the beach holding cans of White Claw.
The complainant said that the advertising breached the code as it appealed to minors and also noted that the advertisement aired during a banned time frame.
Lion responded to the complaint and argued that while the ad was aired during Broadcast Video On Demand (BVOD), the channel is age-gated and has an audience of at least 75 per cent adults, according to the channel seven network. The company also pointed out that it buys advertising spots on BVOD based on audience data, not on programming.
The panel agreed and stated that while it was surprising to have that advertisement air during a stream of Sunrise, Lion took all the necessary steps to ensure the ad was only served to households where there was an adult registered user of the apps.
In terms of appealing to minors, the panel dismissed this claim based on various factors. The first is that the black and white imagery of the advertisement indicates that it is not trying to appeal to children. Secondly, Lion confirmed, each character shown within the advertisement are adults aged over 25 and are not depicted as minors.
Lastly, the panel concluded that while the advertisement included various activities that could appeal to minors, the tone of the ad is considered “adult” and “ is not considered highly relatable to children or adolescents.”
Alcohol retailer Hello Drinks recently faced an ABAC panel concerning various social media posts that are claimed to be breaching the code. Most of the posts in question depict memes, or indicate health facts relating to alcohol.
The complaint read said that; “Each post uses a combination of images and words to depict alcohol and/or alcohol use in a way that we believe breaches one or more provisions of the Code.”
Some of the suggested breaches include appealing to minors and suggesting the consumption of alcohol offers therapeutic benefits.
After reviewing the social media accounts of Hello Drinks, the panel concluded that there were various posts that were inconsistent with the code. To present its argument, the panel specifically focused on nine recent posts from the accounts. Out of the nine posts, the panel found seven as breaching part of the code.
The panel also advised that Hello Drinks should invest in its staff to undertake ABAC training modules and to utilise its pre-vetting service.
Young Street Hotel
The Young Street Hotel in New South Wales faced a complaint regarding its Instagram post that suggested drinking beer would “cure the feelings of sadness associated with COVID-19″.
The complaint said that it “is encouraging excessive alcohol consumption and is directed towards those in a vulnerable state of mind due to the current state of the world”.
The company immediately responded to the complaint and accepted that part of the code was breached and followed up by removing the post from its Instagram page.
Banks Brewing has also faced an ABAC panel regarding the packaging of its Juice Bar Triple Fruited Gose.
The complainant said that the packaging breached the code as its “colourful, cartoon-style design is likely to appeal to minors” and its use of the word “juice” may be confusing when it comes to identifying what the product is.
Banks Brewing responded to the complaint and stated that while it believes the packaging does not appeal to minors, it also noted that the beer itself is no longer in production therefore, all marketing for the product has ceased.
The panel decided to uphold the complaint as it agreed on the packaging concerns presented. Specifically, the panel stated that the packaging of the beer fails to “unambiguously establish the product as an alcohol beverage” and indicates the repeated imagery of juice containers creates an understanding that it could generally appeal to minors.
Carlton & United Breweries
Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) faced a complaint regarding the placement of its Peroni and Corona products following the Australian Open Women’s final match. During an after-show interview on channel nine with Ash Barty, both products could be seen in view and were consumed by the presenters along with Barty herself.
The complainant argued that the segment “glorified and glamorised” the products and said that it could appeal to minors who watched the match.
CUB responded to the complaint and stated that there was no partnership between the company and channel nine and further elaborated that Peroni was the official beer partner of the Australian Open leaving it to fall under the definition of sponsorship within the code. The company also noted that it was not aware the products would be depicted in the way they were.
The panel concluded that while there may be some concerns in appealing to minors, the interview in question is not a marketing communication in regards to ABAC standards and therefore can’t be ruled against the code.
It also noted that CUB didn’t arrange for any of the products to be used in the interview specifically and therefore didn’t warrant it as marketing communication.