AU Vodka ads banned on Instagram for being ‘irresponsible’

Instagram and website ads for a vodka company have been banned for encouraging excessive drinking, linking alcohol with driving and featuring a rapper aged under 25. Instagram posts by AU Vodka in April featured images of the rappers Dutchavelli, Ghetts and Chipmunk, all surrounded by bottles of the spirit. The Dutchavelli post showed him pouring a bottle of the spirit on to his mouth and teeth while holding another bottle in his other hand, while Ghetts was pictured surrounded by 13 more AU Vodka bottles.

Another post featured rapper Aitch holding up two bottles of AU Vodka. The video post of Chipmunk showed him sitting on the bonnet of a car while pouring a glass on a table, which contained many more bottles. He was shown drinking and then sitting in the passenger seat drinking again with three bottles of AU Vodka placed on his lap.

Other posts featured a man sitting in a forklift truck holding a bottle of AU Vodka and a glass containing the drink, a man sitting at a desk holding an AU Vodka bottle to his ear like a telephone surrounded by money and 17 bottles of AU Vodka and a man sitting in a plane holding an AU Vodka bottle to his ear like a telephone. The table in front of him included money, several bottles of AU Vodka and a glass containing the drink.

The website auvodka.co.uk included an image of a man carrying a bottle of AU Vodka in one hand with several bottles of vodka in front of him and another of a man alongside a bathtub and table filled with AU Vodka bottles. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) challenged whether the ads encouraged excessive drinking, linked alcohol with the use of potentially dangerous machinery or driving and, in the case of the Aitch ad, featured someone who was under 25 years old.

AU Vodka said it did not believe the ads encouraged excessive drinking and said the numerous “aesthetically pleasing” gold bottles were used for decorative purposes. However, it said it had removed the ad featuring Dutchavelli as it felt it could cause confusion around encouraging excessive drinking, the ads featuring Chipmunk and the man in a forklift to ensure that there was no connection between drinking and driving or the operation of heavy machinery, and the ad featuring Aitch.

Screenshot of one of the ads

The ASA said alcohol ads had to be socially responsible and contain nothing likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise. It said: “While we acknowledged that there was no indication that any of the people in the ads had consumed excessive amounts of alcohol, we considered that the image of one person drinking in the presence of a large number of bottles of alcohol in each of the ads was likely to encourage excessive consumption of alcohol.”

It also noted that rules required that ads for alcoholic drinks should not show people who were, or appeared to be, under 25 years of age in a significant role, adding: “We understood that Aitch was 21 years old at the time the ad appeared. We considered that because he was the focus of the image, he played a significant role in the ad and therefore concluded the ad was in breach of the Code.” It said: “The ads must not appear again in their current form.

We told AU Vodka to ensure that their ads were not irresponsible in the future.”