Alcohol ads featuring free-runner banned by watchdog

Alcohol brand Cell Drink has been slammed after breaking a fistful of advertising rules in a Youtube campaign that features free runner Tim Shieff.


The campaign for the new vodka-based brand focused on its non-spill packaging via three YouTube ads, which also appeared on the brand’s Facebook page.

One ad showed Shieff free-running and jumping over buildings and break-dancing while holding the product.

Other ads featured a ’rocker’ and a ’raver’ spilling normal pint drinks to reinforce Cell Drink’s proposition.

Complainants challenged the campaign for including the 23-year-old Shieff when the Advertising Code says that under 25s should not be associated with drinking. They also said the woman raver looked under 25.

They also claimed the campaign was irresponsible because it associated alcohol “with bravado and dangerous behaviour” and also implied the drink could enhance physical capabilities.

There were concerns that the ad had particular appeal to under 18s.

Cell Drinks, which launched the product in March, said the campaign focused on the non-spill functionality of the packaging and there was no reference to taste or how it might make a drinker “feel”.

The company agreed Shieff was 23 but said there was no indication in the ad that he had drunk or was about to drink a Cell Drink and the pack unopened.

It said that as the target audience was 18-25-years-old, it meant the ad was likely to have some allure to under 18s and added that the majority of Youtube viewing came via its age-gated Facebook page.

However, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled the ad in breach of the code on a number of points.

It said that it was irreposnsible because both Schieff and the female raver were under 25 and they were clearly the focus of their respective ads. The ASA added that the Schieff ad “made a clear association between an alcoholic product and potentially dangerous, extreme moves”.

It also said that the “comical, mischievous” tone of the rocker and raver ads, together with the music would appeal to young people.

It cleared the campaign of suggesting Cell Drink could actually enhance athletic performance.

Latest from Marketing Week


Access Marketing Week’s wealth of insight, analysis and opinion that will help you do your job better.

Register and receive the best content from the only UK title 100% dedicated to serving marketers' needs.

We’ll ask you just a few questions about what you do and where you work. The more we know about our visitors, the better and more relevant content we can provide for them. And, yes, knowing our audience better helps us find commercial partners too. Don't worry, we won't share your information with other parties, unless you give us permission to do so.

Register now


Our award winning editorial team (PPA Digital Brand of the Year) ask the big questions about the biggest issues on everything from strategy through to execution to help you navigate the fast moving modern marketing landscape.


From the opportunities and challenges of emerging technology to the need for greater effectiveness, from the challenge of measurement to building a marketing team fit for the future, we are your guide.


Information, inspiration and advice from the marketing world and beyond that will help you develop as a marketer and as a leader.

Having problems?

Contact us on +44 (0)20 7292 3703 or email

If you are looking for our Jobs site, please click here