Highlands & Islands

Highland guide's 'weekly fix' advert criticised by ASA

ICA What's On Highlands
Image caption The advert has not been repeated in the free guide

An advert featuring a syringe and needle and the words "the weekly fix" has been criticised by the advertising watchdog.

It appeared in What's On Highlands, a popular guide to events in Inverness and the central Highlands.

The compilers of the guide said the advert was designed to convey the "injection of information".

However, the Advertising Standards Authority said it was likely to imply recreational and illegal drug use.

The ASA said the advert was irresponsible and likely to cause serious and widespread offence and has banned it from being used again.

The free guide is mailed to homes in Inverness and surrounding communities and features film and music reviews, interviews with artists and listings of gigs, festivals and community events.

Blue colour

Inverness City Advertiser (ICA), which compiles What's On Highlands, has already withdrawn the advert.

It featured a syringe filled with a blue colour and a needle.

The text read: "The weekly fix. A new way to keep up to date with what's on - and where to go, brought to you by: ica/whatsonhighlands.com. Inject some fun into your life, sign up today."

Five complaints to the ASA challenged whether the advert was irresponsible and likely to cause serious or widespread offence.

ICA received about 12 complaints and decided not to publish it again, or use imagery that could be seen as drugs-related paraphernalia.

It said it had taken that decision, not because it considered the advert was irresponsible, but because it did not want to cause offence to the complainants.

ICA told the advertising watchdog that the item was part of a larger campaign based on the word "fix" which related to its consumers' hobbies or consumption habits.

'Widespread offence'

A syringe, filled with a blue colour to represent the brand, was used to convey the "injection of information", ICA added.

It did not consider that a syringe was synonymous with hard drugs or heroin, rather the positive uses of hypodermic needles far outweighed the negative aspects.

The ASA upheld the complaints.

In a statement, it said: "The ad was headlined "the weekly fix" with text that stated "inject some fun" which in isolation was likely to convey the message that updates were essential reading for consumers interested in regional entertainment listings.

"However, the ad also included a visual of a needle and syringe which alongside the text "weekly fix" and "inject", in the context of a consumer lifestyle mailing, the ASA considered were likely to imply recreational and illegal drug use.

"We therefore considered the ad was irresponsible and likely to cause serious and widespread offence."

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