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News 29 Jul 2021 - 2 min read

Chugging Vodka Cruisers in a bath: Ad Standards makes first TikTok breach ruling

By Sam Buckingham-Jones - Senior Writer

“I don’t target anyone below the age of 18. Since that would be irresponsible," a spokesperson for OnlyChug said.

Ad Standards has been cracking down on influencers and sponsored products on social platforms since earlier this year. Now, it has made its first ruling against an ad on TikTok, finding OnlyChug created “an overall impression of drinking dangerously”. OnlyChug says that’s not true.

What you need to know:

  • Ad Standards has made a ruling against an ad on TikTok, finding OnlyChug breached its health and safety Code of Ethics by showing a short video of a man using its timed drinking device.
  • OnlyChug says the product enhances the drinking experience, and that it cannot be responsible for someone else’s actions.
  • The ruling comes as brands and agencies have recently expressed concern about the “wild west” of TikTok.

Ad Standards has made its first ruling against an advertisement on TikTok, finding timed alcohol drinking device ‘OnlyChug’ in breach of its Code of Ethics for health and safety.

In a 10-second video promoting the product, a man is sitting in a bathtub and uses the device to drink a Vodka Cruiser in 2.56 seconds. “What’s your time?” the caption in the video reads.

The community panel wrote the OnlyChug TikTok page has “a number of videos which depicted dangerous drinking behaviours” but noted the video did not show the man drinking excessively and there are no government guidelines about the speed of alcohol consumption.

Ad Standards found the combination of the video, the captions, and the soundtrack – Faded by ZHU – created “an overall impression of drinking dangerously”.

“The Panel considered that the overall impression of the advertisement is of alcohol consumption which would be considered unsafe by most members of the community,” the ruling stated.

OnlyChug did not respond to Ad Standards, but told Mi3 it disputed the notion the product encourages dangerous drinking and confirmed it does not target anyone below the age of 18.

“It does create an impression that ‘if you don’t have this product you’re missing out’,” a spokesperson said.

“I wouldn’t say dangerous drinking as there would be nothing dangerous at all with the video or product. What the product does do is enhance how you drink (drink faster) and time how quickly you have done so.”

The spokesperson said the company provides disclaimers, and pointed out that alcoholic drinks companies are not to blame for people drinking irresponsibly.

“You legit cannot be [responsible] for somebody’s actions,” they said.

“I don’t target anyone below the age of 18.  Since that would be irresponsible.”

The decision is the latest in a crackdown on advertising on social platforms by Ad Standards, which has called out influencers for failing to disclose paid or sponsored posts.

TikTok in particular has been described by brands and agencies as the “Wild West” of social media, with increasing spend but concerns over brand safety.

 

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