Laura Whitmore’s Muff Liquor advert is banned by the Advertising Standards Authority for ‘targeting minors and encouraging irresponsible drinking’
- The presenter, 37, will now have her posts approved by The Muff Liquor Company before sharing them to her social media
TikTok and Instagram posts by Laura Whitmore have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following complaints they ‘targeted minors and encouraged irresponsible drinking’.
The advertising watchdog also noted that Whitmore’s posts for The Muff Liquor Company, a gin and vodka brand, were not clearly marked as adverts and implied that alcohol can increase confidence.
The videos – released in July – featured Whitmore, 37, drinking peppermint tea, and then water, beer and ‘Muff & tonic’, while her dancing became increasingly energetic.
Music in the background included the lyrics: ‘I’ll be f***ed up if you can’t be right here.’
Text on screen stated ‘#MakemineaMuff’ and ‘If drinks were dance moves @muffliquorco #makemineamuff #muffboss #irishowned’.
Banned: Posts by Laura Whitmore have been banned by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) following complaints they ‘targeted minors and encouraged irresponsible drinking’
A complainant, who understood that Whitmore was an investor in The Muff Liquor Company, challenged whether the ads were obviously identifiable as marketing communications and were inappropriately targeted because they featured alcoholic drinks.
Whitmore argued that the hashtag ‘muffboss’ was used to declare her shareholder status and believed that ‘#ad’ would not have been a suitable disclaimer because she was not paid by The Muff Liquor Company for the posts.
However, the ASA ruled that the posts should have been clearly marked as ads.
The ASA also investigated whether the ads encouraged irresponsible drinking because they implied that alcohol could enhance confidence and was capable of changing mood.
It noted that Whitmore was the former presenter of Love Island – the fifth most-watched programme by those aged four to 15 years old in the second quarter of 2022.
As a result, a large proportion of individuals who were under 18 with TikTok accounts were likely to interact with content related to Love Island on the platform.
In a statement, they explained: ‘Even if those individuals did not follow Ms Whitmore, we considered it was likely that the algorithm would determine Ms Whitmore’s posts to be of interest to them, meaning they would appear in their ‘For You’ page.’
Referring to Whitmore’s dancing while drinking alcohol, the ASA added: ‘Whilst we acknowledged that the ads were presented in a light-hearted tone, nonetheless we considered that consumers would interpret the ads to mean that drinking alcohol could precipitate a change in an individual’s behaviour and could enhance an individual’s confidence.’
Oops: The advertising watchdog also noted that Whitmore’s posts for The Muff Liquor Company, a gin and vodka brand, were not clearly marked as adverts (pictured last month)
The ASA have ruled that the ads must not appear again.
The Muff Liquor Company have confirmed confirmed Whitmore was a shareholder but said she was not paid for the ads and that they asked her to remove the ads within 24 hours of being made aware of the complaint.
They added that 2.7 percent of Whitmore’s 1.6 million social media followers were under 18 years of age, and therefore understood that the product had not been inappropriately targeted to under-18s.
Since receiving notification of the complaint, they have agreed any of Whitmore’s future ads for The Muff Liquor Company will be reviewed by the company before being posted.
Axed: The videos – released in July – featured Whitmore, 37, drinking peppermint tea, and then water, beer and ‘Muff & tonic’, while her dancing became increasingly energetic
TikTok said Whitmore had not used its branded content disclosure tool, even though the post appeared to fall into this category. Instagram said it had no comment on the investigation.
Whitmore has featured The Muff Liquor Company on her social media pages in the past, last year joking that they would be launching alcohol flavoured condoms in an April Fool’s post.
The Irish presenter became the face of the Donegal drinks brand in 2021 and owns equity in the firm as a shareholder.
She has worked with a number of brands for their consumer campaigns, including Blossom Hill, eBay, Laybuy, Bodyform and Dare2b.
End of an era: She has worked with a number of brands for their consumer campaigns and last year announced she’d be stepping down as the host of Love Island
Last year, the mother-of-one announced she’d be stepping down as the host of Love Island, with her replacement Maya Jama being lauded by fans.
Speaking about her decision to leave, Whitmore took a swipe at her ITV bosses as she claimed that she would still be fronting the show if she’d had more freedom in her role.
She claimed: ‘If I could [have done] things the way I wanted to, I’d probably still be doing it.’
She said she struggled to remain impartial while working on the show, admitting she sometimes wanted to voice her opinion on what had happened in the villa and ask the Islanders how they were coping following their stay.
Speaking to Psychologies magazine, Whitmore said of the contestants: ‘There was only so much I can do as a host – I couldn’t support them or not support them. I couldn’t say anything.
‘So you kind of have to go quiet, and that was hard for me because I like to be able to have those conversations.
‘If I could [have done] things the way I wanted to, I’d probably still be doing it.’
The TV star replaced Caroline Flack as the host of the ITV dating show when she stood down in December 2019. Caroline tragically took her own life aged 40 in February 2020.
Whitmore – who is mother to a 23-month-old daughter with Love Island voiceover star Iain Sterling – took to social media after last year’s summer season to detail her decision, admitting she found flying back and forth from the villa ‘very difficult’.
In her statement, Whitmore said she was only planning to fill in for Caroline for one series, emotionally saying that she hope she did her late friend ‘proud’.
High praise: Whitmore’s Love Island replacement Maya Jama has been lauded by fans
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