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Kronenbourg 1664 Spotify Promotion

04/07/2011
Company: Heineken UK
Breach: Yes

Complaint Summary: In an advert played between songs on Spotify, Kronenbourg are encouraging listeners to click on their link to their playlist of slowed down tracks.  It seems inappropriate to me that the track “Too Drunk to Fuck” is included in this list as it promotes irresponsible drinking.

Complainant: Member of the public

Decision: Under Code paragraph 3.2(f) UPHELD

The company explained that Spotify was a music streaming website which offered brands the opportunity to present consumers with themed ‘playlists’ with a common creative theme or music genre.  They said the current Kronenbourg 1664 marketing campaign centred on the idea of ‘slow the pace’, linking relaxed moderate consumption with music that had been uncharacteristically slowed down from its normal pace.  The company’s marketing agency, BBH, had bought banner advertising space on Spotify and these banners directed consumers to the Kronenbourg 1664 ‘slowed down’ playlist.  BBH confirmed that it had compiled the playlist, including ‘Too Drunk to Fuck’ by Nouvelle Vague, from a list of tracks compiled by bloggers and online influencers on the basis that the chosen tracks most clearly and strongly met with their creative specification.  BBH acknowledged that it did not take sufficient care and attention to consider the suitability of the song title or lyrics.  The company said that when the matter was brought to their attention they accepted that the track was inappropriate and their agency immediately removed it from the playlist.  The company said they had since agreed more rigorous approval procedures to ensure that a similar error was not repeated.  They maintained that they had not deliberately attempted to promote irresponsible or immoderate consumption and that the track had appeared as an error of judgement.  The campaign was no longer active.

The Panel noted that this was the first time it had ever had to consider a complaint about internet content under a drinks producer’s control but on a third-party’s website.  The Panel considered that its consideration of the complaint demonstrated that the Code was sufficiently flexible to take account of emerging technologies.  The Panel, while acknowledging that the company had not deliberately set out to promote irresponsible or immoderate consumption, nonetheless considered that the track name referenced drinking to excess and this in turn associated the brand with immoderate consumption.  Accordingly, it found the promotion in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f).

Action by Company: The company had already agreed to stop the promotion.  No further action needed.

Code Paragraphs: 3.2(f)