Diageo halts global ad spend on Snapchat

Diageo has suspended all its advertising on Snapchat. This follows a ruling by a UK advertising watchdog that said Diageo did not take enough care to ensure its ads were not seen by users under the legal drinking age of 18 for its Captain Morgan Snapchat lens ad campaign.

Following the ruling, a statement issued to Marketing by Diageo said that it has a “strict marketing code” and that the company took its role as a responsible marketer seriously and acknowledged the ruling. This included taking all reasonable steps to ensure the content was not directed at users under the drinking age of 18. This was done using the data provided by Snapchat and applying age filters. Meanwhile, it has stopped all advertising on Snapchat globally while it assesses the “incremental age verification safeguards” that Snapchat is implementing.

Just yesterday, the Advertising Standards of Authority UK ruled that the campaign had violated two rules of its code.  It explained that the ad campaign was likely to appeal to users under 18 years old due to several interactive and augmented elements of the lens. In addition, because the Snapchat platform was popular with users under 18, it was “not sufficient to ensure that marketing communications were not targeted at people under 18”.

“We therefore concluded that through the selection of media, Captain Morgan had not taken sufficient care to ensure that the ad was not directed at people under 18 and therefore the ad breached the Code,” the ASA report added.

The ad campaign, which was running around June last year, included a cartoon icon of a pirate. The Snapchat lens involved also made a user’s face look like Captain Morgan and featured two glasses of alcoholic drinks clinking on screen. This is followed by a seagull which flew a scroll to the screen which said “Live like the Captain”, with a voice over that said “Captain” that had the sound of people cheering.

“We are disappointed with the ASA’s decision. While more options for age targeting on Snapchat have been added since July, we disagree that Diageo intentionally directed its Lens to an underage audience when it applied the accurate 18+ targeting available at the time," a Snapchat spokesperson said in a statement to Marketing.

It added that the ASA acknowledges the evidence it had provided showing that ages supplied by Snapchat users are a robust way to age-restrict ads.

"Snapchat now offers amongst the most sophisticated targeting in the industry and by introducing new tools such as Audience Lenses and incorporating additional signals into our targeting, advertisers have a reliable and flexible way to ensure their ads reach the right audience," the Snapchat spokesperson said.

Just last year, Diageo was one of the 11 global alcohol and beverage brands which pledged to only direct its advertising to adults who are able to lawfully buy their products. This was with the aim to prevent harmful and underaged drinking. The brands later signed an agreement to further commit in developing new robust and responsible marketing standards for digital channels.

The 11 brands were Anheuser-Busch InBev, Asahi, Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg, Diageo, Heineken, Kirin Holdings, Molson Coors and Pernod Ricard.

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