The UK’s advertising regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), has banned an advertisement for Virgin Holidays’ ‘Rockstar Service’ campaign on the grounds that is likely to encourage unwise drinking styles (the decision can be found here).
The advertisement showed four rockstars drinking champagne in a jacuzzi, with a number of empty bottles and glasses lying around. One of the rockstars and a female staff member were pouring champagne into the jacuzzi. Virgin Holidays defended the advertisement by stating that the rationale behind the campaign was to emphasise that the service allowed every customer’s desires to be met. They said that the advertisement portrayed “an example of the most outlandish and decadent request” that someone might make, and the emphasis was on that request being met, not on the drinking. The ASA stated that although Virgin Holiday’s intention had been to promote the level of service offered, the prominent feature of alcohol and the depiction of rockstars, which are “widely accepted as glamorous and exciting figures”, indicated a casual attitude towards the handling and consumption of alcohol. As such the ASA concluded that the scene would be likely to encourage people to adopt unwise drinking styles.
Moral: Take care when featuring the use of alcohol in advertising.