The ASA considered a press ad for a lager, featuring a price promotion, was likely to be seen to encourage excessive drinking and implied that alcohol was indispensable.
The other 306 ads (99.7%) were all “encouragingly” in compliance with the CAP Code, said the ASA.
The result is an improvement on the compliance rate of 98.9% from the 2008 survey and 97.4% from the 2007 survey. However, the sample size has declined, most likely as a result of the downward trend in advertising spend, said the ASA.
As in 2008, none of the online ads examined during the survey breached the Code. Of particular note, no ads for cider were identified as problematic whereas three were identified as in breach of the Codes in 2008.
The results come just over a month after a report by the influential National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) called a “complete alcohol advertising ban”.
The report’s conclusions mirror those published by the cross-party Health Committee earlier this year. However, the report from Nice is likely to carry more weight. While it doesn’t have any direct remit on advertising, it does have status as Whitehall’s primary adviser on which policies are most likely to address health problems.
The coalition government has yet to show its hand on minimum pricing, but has identified alcohol problems as one of its priorities, with plans to stop alcohol being sold below cost price.
Chief executive Guy Parker says the ASA and CAP are “determined to help industry comply with the alcohol rules”.
“As our survey demonstrates, the work we have undertaken is helping, but advertisers are themselves playing a significant part in ensuring that alcohol is promoted in a socially responsible way.”
This is the third comprehensive ASA survey of alcohol ads since the introduction of new stricter alcohol advertising rules in 2005. They were significantly tightened by industry in response to Government and public concern about underage and irresponsible drinking and place a particular emphasis on protecting young people.