Advertising Standards Council of India prohibits surrogate liquor ads

Mumbai: Reputed liquor companies such as United Spirits (formerly United Breweries), Diageo India, United Spirits and Seagram have had to withdraw their surrogate advertising campaigns launched between April and June this year.

In UB's case, the withdrawn ad's tagline read 'Where the Night Rocks', with 'packaged drinking water' mentioned in fine print, accompanied by a visual of a dancing couple. According to the Advertising Standards Council of India (ASCI), the absence of specific product information made the ad appear to be a surrogate for a liquor brand, especially since the visual and headline did not bear relevance to the product advertised.

Diageo India withdrew its Johnie Walker ad, which depicted the liquor brand mentioning CDs and cassettes as "Red Label'. ASCI ostensibly viewed the ad as a surrogate. Diageo's campaign for another brand, Haig Vintage, was also pulled up. It had featured a contest where the question, 'When did Henry Ford perfect the assembly line?' had to be chosen from among three and replied via an SMS. The winner could win a 'fantastic' Haig Vintage / Classic car model.

ASCI opined that the ad was misleading and that there was no proof or evidence of the claim / offer being complied with. According to sources, advertiser Diageo has also assured ASCI that similar ads would not be released in future, to avoid any contravention of the ASCI code.

United Spirits' ad for its Antiquity brand entices consumers to 'Indulge in Blue Antiquity', later mentioning cassettes and CDs, without a visual depiction of them. ASCI felt the ad was suggestive of over consumption, and that as Blue Antiquity was the name of a liquor brand, it termed the ad as being surrogate, following which the advertiser suspended the campaign.

Seagram India too has been checked for its ad on 'The Chivas Life' that mentioned CDs and cassettes, with phrases that indicate that it was a surrogate ad.