Tanya Burr, the web celebrity, who boasts nearly 10 million followers across various platforms, has caught the attention of alcohol charities after advertising Heineken’s home draught beer pump. The sponsored Instagram post made in April this year has triggered six complaints, challenging the collaboration’s appropriateness as Burr’s three-million audience on the photo-sharing website included under-age followers.
In a groundbreaking ruling released last week, the ASA said it had investigated the ad but had not found it in breach of the law. The regulator further explained that Heineken had provided a demographic breakdown of Burr’s Instagram account. Data from three separate sources showed that only a small portion of her audience (between 7.1% and 11%) was under 18.
“The ASA took into account the specific nature of Tanya Burr’s Instagram and although we acknowledged that it may appeal to some under 18s, we did not consider that it would be of greater appeal to them than those over 18. We understood from the audience figures provided by both Heineken and Tanya Burr that less than 25% of Tanya Burr’s audience was under the age of 18. Taking into account both the nature of the channel and the demographic data available, we concluded that the ad had been appropriately targeted and did not breach the Code,” the watchdog stated.
The ASA’s decision is facing backlash, however. The Telegraph reported on Saturday that two alcohol charities — the Institute of Alcohol Studies and Alcohol Change UK — are now arguing that Instagram has no effective method of age verifying its users. The organizations fear that the case could lead to more alcohol promotions reaching children through social media.
“We need regulation on alcohol marketing that takes into account what teenagers do online in the real world, not a blank cheque for alcohol companies and social media influencers who target teenagers,” the Institute of Alcohol Studies CEO Katherine Severi said as quoted by The Telegraph.
Reached for comment, a Heineken spokesman told the news outlet: “We have strict controls in place across all communications channels – including digital media. With the ASA Council concluding that this ad did not breach the Cap Code in the UK, we can feel confident that our robust processes are ensuring we reach age-appropriate audiences.”