ASA raps VH1 for ‘cocaine’ ad

An ad campaign for music station VH1 that appeared to condone the use of cocaine has been denounced by the Advertising Standards Authority.

The poster campaign featured three straws and a rolled up banknote that has a white substance at one end. The strapline says: “VH1: music TV that’s not for kids”.

The ASA says the poster, created by Malcolm Moore Deakin Blayze, “implied it was acceptable for adults to take drugs, thereby condoning illegal drug taking”.

VH1, part of MTV Networks Europe, said the white area on the note was an unintentional result of the printing process, which attempted to copy Andy Warhol’s style. However, it admitted the ad “made a vague allusion to cocaine” but did not glamorise or condone it.

In July last year, London club and restaurant The Cinnamon Club was censored by the ASA after running a press ad which showed two lines of cinnamon. The ASA argued that the ad implied the club condoned drug use, but the club said the ad was intended to be light-hearted.

ITV Digital has run into trouble with the ASA after suggesting in a press campaign that it was the only platform to show certain cup and league football games.

NTL and Telewest jointly argued that the ads misled the public about the service they provide, as they both carry ITV Sport – ITV Digital’s sports channel. The complaint was upheld.

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