Absolut London campaign avoids censure

An Absolut vodka campaign featuring cartoon characters created by Gorillaz co-founder Jamie Hewlett has avoided censure following a complaint by Alcohol Concern that it was designed to appeal to under-18s.

Jamie Hewlett designed Absolut London campaign

The Absolute London activity pushed a limited edition bottle designed by Hewlett. The bottle featured cartoon depictions of the capital’s fashion pioneers.

The lobby group complained to self-regulatory industry body The Portman Group, arguing the graphic novel style imagery, similar to the Hewlett created characters that feature in Gorrillaz videos and campaigns, would appeal to under-18s as well as adults.

Brand owner Pernod Ricard, one of the nine producers that fund The Portman Group, claimed the bottles and campaign complied with its own internal marketing standards code and The Portman Group’s marketing and promotions code of practice.

The independent complaints panel setup to rule on breaches of The Portman Group’s code agreed, stating that the “illustrative style” did not automatically mean it would appeal to under-18s.

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, says: “There are strict rules preventing alcohol from being marketed at children and we thank the people who take the time to complain about campaigns they think are inappropriate……The panel has ruled that Absolut London has not broken responsibility rules and the company worked to ensure that the characters did not appear to be under 25.”

A spokesman for Alcohol Concern described the decision to clear the campaign as “dissapointing”. He adds: “Graphic novels have an adult audience, yes, but you cannot deny they will also appeal to children as well.”  

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