The Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland (ASAI) has recently considered the meaning of 'Bubbly' following a complaint by a member of the public in relation to a promotion for brunch and ‘Bottomless Bubbly' at Drop Dead Twice. The decision of the ASAI can be found here.
The complainant made a complaint to the ASAI on the basis that she felt that the advertisement (which appeared on a third-party website) for the promotion for brunch and bottomless bubbly was misleading.
The offending advertisement:
- Stated that 'Bottomless Bubbly' was valid for 90 minutes;
- Asked consumers to drink responsibly and to visit www.drinkaware.ie for more advice;
- Stated that consumers must be aged 18 or over with valid photo ID;
- Featured an image of an ice bucket with a bottle protruding from it and two champagne glasses containing a 'yellow toned' liquid.
In the complainant's view most people would consider 'Bottomless Bubbly' to be a reference to sparkling wine. However, she was provided with sparkling pear juice. The complainant also outlined that she had consulted the dictionary which confirmed her interpretation of 'Bubbly'.
In response the advertiser stated that it has not stated that it would supply prosecco/sparkling wine. Instead, for example, it claimed that:
- Many offers for 'bottomless bubbles' state clearly that the bubbles in question are sparkling wine/prosecco;
- They had received no other complaints about the promotion; and
- The interpretation of the word 'bubbles' was subjective.
The advertiser set out that they take a very serious approach to responsible drinking. One of the reasons that they do not offer bottomless prosecco is that the alcohol content is 12.5%-14% and to allow a customer to drink as much of an alcoholic product as they wished in 90 minutes would be irresponsible and reckless.
The complaint was upheld and the Complaints Committee concluded that the description of the offer was misleading and in breach various subsections of Article 4 of the ASAI Code. While the Committee noted the advertiser's contention that the meaning of the word 'bubbles' was subjective, it held that in the context of the advertisement the most likely understanding was that the bubbles would be some from of sparkling wine or prosecco. In particular, the Committee pointed to the image used on the advertisement and also the time limit imposed on the availability of the drink offered with the promotion.
The Committee stated that 'the use of the word ‘bubbly’ should not be used in future promotions unless the beverage was either a) sparkling wine or prosecco or b) prominent clarification was given as to the nature of the beverage.'
Given how popular 'Bubbly' has become in recent years and the amount of 'Bubbly' promotions being run, care should be taken to ensure that advertisements in respect of 'Bubbly' are not misleading. Although the ASAI does not have the authority to impose fines in respect of its decisions (other than on its own members), traders should be careful not to breach misleading advertising provisions of the Consumer Protection Act 2007 which may result in fines or penalties.