The Co-operative group has been reprimanded by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) for an “irresponsible” radio advert featuring alcoholic drinks which aired this summer.

The advert breached UK Code of Broadcast Advertising rules 1.2 (Social responsibility) and 19.2 (Alcohol) the ASA ruled.

Heard in August 2015, the advert stated: “Suns out, garden chair, drinks. In-laws, great, drinks. Cricket, wicket, drinks. At your local Co-op selected spirits are just £13 each. Little, often, Co-op. Participating stores, subject to availability. 70cl, ends 1 September. Please drink responsibly.”

Two issues were investigated:

  • One listener objected that inclusion of the slogan “Little, often, Co-op” in conjunction with an ad for alcohol products was irresponsible.
  • The ASA challenged whether the advert was irresponsible because the repetition of the word “drinks” could condone or encourage immoderate drinking.

Both issues were upheld.

“In this case the advert included reference to three brief scenarios followed by ‘drinks’, which we considered would be understood by listeners to refer to the consumption of alcohol,” the ASA said.

“The scenarios were all spoken by the same person and, in combination with the use of the slogan and fact the ad was for spirits, we considered that the ad implied it was desirable to drink frequently. We therefore concluded that the ad was irresponsible,” it concluded.  

The ASA has ruled that the advert must not appear again in the form complained of.

“We told Co-operative Group Ltd to take care when using the slogan ’Little. Often. Co-op’ in ads for alcohol to ensure it did not condone or encourage immoderate drinking,” it added.