Restaurant censured for ‘cocaine’ ad

The Cinnamon Club, a London restaurant and private members club, has been censored by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) for implying that drug use is acceptable at the club.

The press ad, which appeared in the Spectator and the New Statesman, showed two parallel lines of cinnamon coloured powder against a white background. At the bottom of the page it stated in small print: The Cinnamon Club Restaurant and Private Members Club.

The ad was originally created by M&C Saatchi’s new agency The Immediate Sales Company, and was intended for use in the Conservative Party’s annual ball brochure. But when Tory bosses saw the ad they refused to use it.

Iqbal Wahhab, owner of the Westminster-based restaurant, says he is “staggered” by the ASA’s decision.

“If I was going to encourage drug use at The Cinnamon Club I would hardly advertise the fact,” he says.

“The ad is simply playing on the fact that curry is addictive and that the Cinnamon Club is a thrill. This is an acute case of the ASA’s sense of humour failing.”

But the ASA agreed with a complainant from Lancashire that the two lines were positioned in a way that alluded to drug use, and could thus be seen as implying it was condoned at the club.

The authority says it was concerned that the restaurant owner believed it was acceptable to use a “light-hearted or humorous reference to drugs and addiction” in an ad.

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