Smirnoff ad banned for implying benefits of alcohol

Diageo vows to appeal decision by an independent watchdog in the UK

LONDON  — British ad watchdog the Advertising Standards Authority has banned a Smirnoff TV ad of for implying that the vodka contributes to the success of a social occasion.

The spot, called "Filter the Unnecessary," created by 72andSunny, is shot from the point of view of a person entering a bar populated by pretentious, stuck-up patrons. Once the unseen protagonist orders a Smirnoff, the bar transforms into a laid-back, friendly watering hole.

"Filter the fake. Keep the good stuff," reads the copy.

The ASA decided to ban the ad on the grounds that the ad implied alcohol is needed for a good night in a bar.

"We considered the ad's presentation implied that before the visitor asked for an alcoholic drink, the bar was cold and uninviting and that once his drink had been ordered, the bar changed and became livelier and more fun," said the ruling, issued today. "We considered the contrast between the two implied it was the presence of the alcohol that was the pivotal point in the bar's transformation."

Diageo denied the claims by the ASA and said that it would appeal the decision. Julie Bramham, the marketing director at Smirnoff, said the company is "deeply disappointed" with the ASA’s adjudication.

"We believe the advert clearly showed two scenarios that were separated by a physical change of the bar symbolising the ‘filtering’ of unnecessary pretentiousness, and not by the presence of alcohol," she said. "Pre-approval was granted by Clearcast and we will await the decision of the ASA’s appeal process."

This article first appeared on

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