New Decisions: Medicinal Cannabis, Alcohol Advertising and More

The following decisions have been published:

Alcohol Advertising Must Not Appeal To Minors

Prior to Christmas, Glengarry Wines sent both addressed and unaddressed newsletters containing wine promotions.  The front cover had a stylised cartoon drawing of Santa Claus, a dog and a Christmas tree with a wine bottle and glasses.  The back page featured a selection of pink bottles of alcohol featured alongside pink iced donuts and bright coloured biscuits.

The Complainant was concerned the unaddressed advertisement had direct appeal to children and alcohol should not be marketed in that way.

The Advertiser said the unaddressed advertisement had been sent to selected neighbourhoods that matched the target demographic for fine wines.  It said the advertisement was prepared and intended for an adult audience.  The stylised graphic of Santa was done in a humorous, mature way as a festive cover, not to attract minors.

The Complaints Board did not consider minors would be interested in the inside pages of the newsletter.  However, the front and back covers were likely to be visually attractive to minors given the context of Christmas and the bright cartoon representation of Santa. The Complaints Board ruled the combination of the appeal of the cover of the advertisement and the unrestricted access to a wide audience via unaddressed mail delivery was a breach of the Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol. Therefore, the complaint was Upheld.

Medicinal Cannabis Advertisement Misleading to Consumers

Helius Therapeutics displayed three versions of a billboard advertisement promoting medicinal cannabis. Each version had a different head-and-shoulders photo of a person on the left-hand side of the billboard and identical text positioned to the right of the photo. The main text said: “Cannabis is medicine”. Below this was the text: “It’s time to tell the truth about medicinal cannabis”. The Helius Therapeutics logo and reference to their Facebook page was also displayed.

The complainants were concerned that cannabis was not allowed to be advertised, an illegal drug was being promoted, the advertisement implied all cannabis is medicine, and the billboard was a breach of Treaty rights.

The Advertiser said the purpose of the campaign was to address the stigma associated with cannabis, draw attention to the use of cannabis as medicine and honour those patients and advocates who have had the courage to stand up for reform.  The Advertiser removed the billboard soon after complaints were received, and it has no plans to run the advertisement again.

The Complaints Board noted that cannabis is an illegal drug in New Zealand, and it is not socially responsible to imply that all cannabis is “medicine”. The Complaints Board was unanimous in its view the advertisement was likely to mislead, confuse or harm consumers. However, considering the fact the advertisment had been removed, the Complaints Board ruled the complaint was Settled.

The ASA team are working remotely and all core services are operating.Click here to learn more