A Snapchat ad for Captain Morgan rum has been banned after watchdogs ruled it was likely to appeal to youngsters.
The photo sharing app’s lens, overlaid on selfies, featured a cartoon icon of a pirate – making the user’s face look like the buccaneer.
It appeared when the icon was scrolled onto, manipulating the environment. That also included a seagull flying across the screen with a scroll which read “Live like the Captain” – and two clinking glasses.
The lens was accompanied by a male voice which said “Captain? Captain!” with further animated high pitched voices cheering and repeating the word Captain.
Appealing to children
Although the lens did not use particularly bright colours, it did age and add a beard to the user’s face which the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) considered was of “comedic effect”.
They stated: “Taken together with the lens icon, we considered that the specific interactive and augmented elements of the lens, such as the user’s face being made to look like a buccaneer, the clinking glasses, references to ‘Captain’ and the cheering, were likely to appeal particularly to those under 18.”
The ASA said this meant it broke advertising rules which require marketing communications for alcoholic drinks must not be directed at this age group.
No medium should be used to advertise alcoholic drinks if more than 25 percent of its audience was under 18, it said.
It pointed out research undertaken by Ofcom showed out of a group of 343 of those aged 12-15 years who had reported they had a social media account, the proportion who said they had a Snapchat account increased from 51% in 2016 to 58% in 2017.
The ASA said: “We also noted a large number of the total population of 13 to 17 year olds in the UK had Snapchat accounts. From the above, we considered that Snapchat was popular amongst younger audiences.”
The minimum age for a person to have an account with Snapchat was 13. But another Ofcom study of 104 eight to 11 year olds who had social media accounts found 34% had Snapchat profiles.
The ASA ruled: “The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Captain Morgan to ensure their ads were appropriately targeted in the future and that they were not of particular appeal to under 18s.”
The drink’s maker Diageo said the image of Captain Morgan, which appeared in the Snapchat lens, was consistent with the brand trade mark and packaging that depicted a historical buccaneer in traditional seventeenth century attire.
It aimed to depict a real life seventeenth century buccaneer and was complemented with the use of toasting tankards and the scroll, highlighting the era and ambience which a Snapchat user could create. It was intended to be light-hearted.
Diageo suspends all Snapchat campaigns
The drinks giant suspended all advertising with Snapchat after the ruling.
A Diageo spokesperson told Campaign “We have a strict marketing code, take our role as a responsible marketer very seriously and acknowledge the ASA’s ruling. We took all reasonable steps to ensure the content we put on Snapchat was not directed at under 18s – using the data provided to us by Snapchat and applying an age filter.
“We have now stopped all advertising on Snapchat globally whilst we assess the incremental age verification safeguards that Snapchat are implementing.”
Snapchat owners Snap are said to be disappointed with the ruling and working to educate Diageo on the app’s latest age targeting features, introduced since the advert ran in June 2017.