Instagram alcohol ad promoted by Love Island finalist ‘did not target children’


An Instagram post which featured Love Island’s Luke Mabbott promoting an alcoholic drink did not inappropriately target children, an advertising watchdog has ruled, after concerns were raised over the age of his fanbase.

VK owner Global Brands told the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) that Mr Mabbott had been “chosen carefully” to promote its alcopop drink and was over the age of 25 at the time the ad was published.

On June 23, the Love Island Winter 2020 finalist posted an image of himself with a VK drink, with the caption: “Helloooooo summer has officially landed. Get @vkdrink new limited edition flavour at @goodtimeindrinks Perfect heatwave vibes. #ad”.

A complaint made to the ASA challenged Mr Mabbott’s age as he “seemed to be under 25” and raised concerns that the ad was targeted at children as it was believed he was “popular with people under 18”.

However, in a ruling published on Wednesday, the ASA said the ad was not in breach of its advertising code after concluding that it did not inappropriately target children.

The ruling said Global Brands provided evidence of Mr Mabbott’s demographic data from his Instagram account, where he currently has 1.2 million followers, which the company said demonstrated that more than 92% of his audience was over the age of 18.

Audience figures showed that Mr Mabbott, who previously claimed people sometimes mistake him for Justin Bieber, had “significantly less” than 25% of people aged under 18 viewing his Instagram posts, the ASA found.

“We noted that Mr Mabbot’s Instagram account consisted primarily of photos and posts about lifestyle, friends, and fashion and, we therefore considered that, in general the content of Mr Mabbott’s Instagram did not focus on themes likely to be of particular appeal to under-18s,” the ruling said.

And while it commented on Mr Mabbott’s “youthful appearance”, the ASA said he did not appear to be under 25 years old in the image.

As the Instagram post was not a paid-for ad, neither Mr Mabbott nor Global Brands would have been able to utilise the age restrictions or interest-based targeting available on the site for paid adverts, the ASA said.

The advertising watchdog did not uphold the complaint, stating: “Taking into account both the nature of the Instagram account and the demographic data available, we concluded that the ad had been appropriately targeted and did not breach the code.”