A TV ad, video on demand (VOD) ad and a paid-for ad on Instagram for Macallan whisky, seen in December 2018:
a. The TV ad featured a man leaping off a cliff and tumbling towards the ground. As he fell, feathers started sprouting out of his arms and he began to grow wings. On-screen text stated Would you risk falling ... for the chance to fly?. As he
approached the ground he disappeared from view behind a mountainside and then reappeared after he had pulled out of the nosedive and started to fly upwards now that his wings were fully grown. An end-frame featured text stating The Macallan.
Make the call which was accompanied by an image of the whisky product in a glass.
b. The VOD ad, seen on the ITV hub, was a longer version of ad (a), but featured similar imagery and on-screen text. Unlike ad (a), that ad did not feature an image of the whisky product.
c. The paid-for ad on Instagram featured a video that was identical to ad (b). Issue
Six complainants challenged whether the ads were irresponsible and linked alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.
Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan explained that the line Make The Call was used globally to describe the brand's philosophy. It was used in relation to the decisions that the brand had made in its own history, and was also relevant to the
audience's decisions made in their own lives. They said the ads featured a fantastical story about a man who took a big decision (i.e. made a call), found it difficult along the way, but was eventually rewarded. They believed the treatment of the
story was mystical, almost mythical, and was clearly removed from the real world.
In relation to ad (a), Clearcast explained that they had considered the daring and toughness Code rule when clearing the ad, and had decided that the treatment was fantastical enough to be acceptable.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheld
The ASA noted that the opening scene in all versions of the ad featured the man running and jumping off a cliff, and considered that could be seen as being reminiscent of the extreme sport of base-jumping. We noted that at that point in the ads,
there was no suggestion that the male character had any super-human attributes or powers, or that he was part of a mythical world; we considered the scenery featured was a typical mountainous landscape. We noted that in ads (b) and (c) the
character was seen peering over the edge of the cliff and there was a close-up of him clenching his fists. We considered that gave the impression that he was nervous about jumping and was building up the courage to do so. In that context, we
considered that the act of jumping off the cliff was very dangerous, potentially fatal, and consisted of extreme risk-taking behaviour. That impression was compounded by the text Would you risk falling ... for the chance to fly?.
Whilst we acknowledged that some elements of the ad were fantastical, such as the distance the man fell through the clouds, and the sprouting of wings which enabled him to fly away instead of hitting the ground, we considered, nevertheless, that
the central message of the ad, which was explicitly highlighted through the tagline Would you risk falling ... for the chance to fly?, was one of promoting risky or daring behaviour to reap possible rewards. Although the character was not seen
consuming alcohol at any point, we considered the ads made a clear association between an alcoholic product and potentially very dangerous, daring behaviour and concluded that they were irresponsible.
The ads must not appear again in their current form. We told Edrington Distillers Ltd t/a Macallan to ensure in future their ads did not link alcohol with daring, toughness or irresponsible behaviour.
A TV ad for Sky Bet, seen on 30 August 2018, promoting their Request a Bet service. The football presenter Jeff Stelling said, Forget 'anything can happen', in sport anything does happen. But could it be better? With Request a Bet it could. Spark
your sports brain and roll all the possibilities into one bet. Three red cards, seven corners, five goals: lets price that up. Or browse hundreds of request a bets on our app. The possibilities are humongous. How big is your sports noggin? Sky
Bet, Britain's most popular online bookmaker. When the fun stops, stop. A large screen behind the presenter featured various odds and statistics as well as a graphic of brain waves emanating from his head. Issue
Two complainants, who believed it implied that those with a good knowledge of sports were likely to experience gambling success, challenged whether the ad was irresponsible.
ASA Assessment: Complaints upheldd
The ad contained a number of references to the role of sports knowledge in betting, such as spark your sports brain and how big is your sports noggin. It also included a well-known sports presenter, who viewers would recognise as having a
particular expertise in sports, and on-screen graphics used to depict brain waves and various odds. The ASA considered that, taking all those elements into account, the ad placed strong emphasis on the role of sports knowledge in determining
betting success. We acknowledged it was the case that those with knowledge of a particular sport may be more likely to experience success when betting. However, we considered that the ad gave an erroneous perception of the extent of a gambler's
control over betting success, by placing undue emphasis on the role of sports knowledge. We considered that this gave consumers an unrealistic and exaggerated perception of the level of control they would have over the outcome of a bet and that
could lead to irresponsible gambling behaviour. We therefore concluded that the ad breached the Code.
The ad must not be broadcast again in the form complained of. We told Bonne Terre t/a Sky Bet to ensure in future that their ads did not condone or encourage gambling behaviour that was socially irresponsible, for example by creating an
unrealistic perception of the level of control consumers would have over betting success.