Advertising watchdog criticised for giving ‘green light’ for booze brand to ‘blast’ children with Instagram promos

Alcohol charities have blasted the advertising watchdog, the ASA for its leniency towards an Instragram influencer, saying its leniency in a ground-breaking case gave booze brands a “green light” to “blast” children with alcohol promos.

Last week the ASA deemed that two ads for Heineken on model, Youtuber and Instagram influencer Tanya Burr’s Instagram page in April were acceptable because less than 25% of her audience were under the age of 18.

The Instagram influencer, who has more than three million followers, advertised a home draught beer pump with Heineken on her social media feed.

Six complainants were received by the ASA, who pointed out that Burr was popular with people under 18 years of age, and therefore the ads were not appropriately targeted.

Although Heineken provided three breakdowns of the model’s followers, based on public information which suggested that around 7-11% of her followers were over 18, well within the 25% limit.

However, two alcohol charities have since questioned the ruling, pointing out that that Instagram has no way of verifying the age of its users.

According to the Daily Telegraph, Katherine Severi, chief executive at the Institute of Alcohol Studies, said: “At a time when there’s increased concern about our children being subjected to harmful adult content online, the ASA has given the green light for big alcohol companies to blast marketing at underage drinkers.

“We need regulation on alcohol marketing that takes into account what teenagers do online in the real world, not a blank cheque for alcohol companies and social media influencers who target teenagers.”

Alcohol Change UK echoed the concern, calling online advertising “the Wild West” of marketing. It said social media alcohol rules needed to be reviewed as influencers carried more weight with young audiences than traditional advertisers.

“Without proper regulation online advertising is the Wild West of the marketing world, and it’s the most vulnerable, including minors, who suffer most,” a spokesman said.

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