Liquor Ads Generate Complaints

WASHINGTON Using sex to sell liquor—and incorporating images where liquor is being used excessively or in an irresponsible manner—are among the chief complaints in the latest advertising code report issued today by the Distilled Spirits Council of the U.S., the industry’s trade group.

The semi-annual report, which covers January through June 2005, is part of the industry’s voluntary efforts to regulate itself. One SKYY Vodka print ad, for example, featured a female model wearing see-through clothing. The advertiser, SKYY Spirits, agreed to revise the ad after receiving a complaint.

While the council said it achieves a “100 percent” compliance rate among member companies, convincing non-members to take action when there is a violation of the ad code requires more work. Svedka vodka’s “Happy Hour” and “Peek-A-Boo” print ads violated the code by using sex to sell a brand, depicting gratuitous nudity and degrading the image of women. The advertiser, however, has not responded to the complaint.

Council officials said that making the code review process public has prompted more companies to honor the code. “Incorporating transparency into our code review process is having an immediate and positive impact,” said council president Peter Cressy. “Our members continue to achieve 100 percent compliance and we are seeing a quicker response time and an increased compliance rate among non-members.”