Diageo: ‘Ofcom alcohol proposals are flawed’

Drinks giant Diageo has expressed concerns about restrictions on its freedom to advertise on television, in response to Ofcom’s consultation on alcohol advertising. This is the first time the owner of Smirnoff Ice and Archers Aqua has challenged some of the Ofcom proposals, such as those asking advertisers not to associate drinking with bravado.

Diageo argues that this could potentially rule some out of its Guinness campaigns, which feature strong male protagonists responding positively to a challenge.

Diageo has also urged Ofcom to change the proposed amendment of the clause concerning the issue of youth appeal, as the new provision is highly “flawed”. It has asked the regulator to define the terms “adolescent” and “juvenile” clearly, because they could be open to different interpretations.

Past Diageo advertising campaigns that have pushed the limits when it comes to sex include an ad for Smirnoff Ice, which suggested that a couple were having sex in a box at the opera.

Last week, the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers (ISBA) accused the regulator of being “over-prescriptive and heavy-handed” in its proposal to amend the alcohol advertising code (MW last week).

According to ISBA, the draft proposal could take nearly all current alcohol advertising campaigns off air. It adds that the potential for effective advertising in the sector will be so limited that investment will be diverted into other media, denying TV broadcasters valuable income.

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