Pizza restaurant chain Prezzo cannot put out an advertisement for "bottomless Prosecco" again in its current form after a complaint against it was upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
A single complainant challenged whether the advert was irresponsible and encouraged excessive drinking.
Prezzo issued the first of a series of adverts on 28 February 2017. It was headlined "Prosecco Pay Day has arrived…" and featured a photo of three people smiling and clinking glasses.
Text stated "#PROSECCOPAYDAY IS BACK. BOTTOMLESS PROSECCO FOR £15pp … It's Pay Day, Bottomless Prosecco is back!… Grab your friends, partners & colleagues, head to Prezzo & party with bottomless Prosecco for only £15pp … T&C's apply."
The terms and conditions entitled diners to "free flowing Prosecco for two hours for £15 per person. Each person must purchase a main dish…Prosecco will be served by the glass and will continue to be topped up when you finish each glass. We reserve the right to refuse alcohol beverage service to anyone who appears intoxicated".
That was followed by another email on 1 March 2017 that stated "Bottomless for £15pp…Get your code to enjoy bottomless Prosecco for £15 per person when purchased with any main dish."
Another email on 3 March 2017 featured an image of Prosecco cascading into several glasses.
Responding to the complaint, Prezzo said the promotion sought to use the monthly payday as an opportunity for friends and colleagues to gather for a meal and a drink of Prosecco. It was directed at working professionals. The company stated it had made clear in the ads, and in the terms and conditions, that customers were required to purchase a main dish to redeem the offer. The ads encouraged diners to enjoy some Prosecco alongside their main meal, but the company said it did not believe the ads encouraged irresponsible drinking.
Prezzo also indicated that the two-hour time period represented the total period during which a table could be reserved and was not intended to place a limit on the duration for which Prosecco could be obtained. The company stated it was common industry practice to ensure tables were not occupied for very long periods of time and considered consumers would understand that the reservation time limit was a guideline as to how long customers could spend over their dinner, so the restaurant could accommodate as many diners as possible.
But even though the ASA acknowledged that the imagery in the advert was likely to be interpreted to represent a group of people enjoying a social occasion who did not appear as if they had been drinking to excess, and that the advertisers were primarily a restaurant and therefore that consumers would understand from the ads that they were required to purchase a main course to take up the offer, it still upheld the complaint.
The ASA said that the wording "BOTTOMLESS PROSECCO" featured prominently in the ads and it considered that wording contributed to an impression that large or excessive amounts of alcohol could be consumed as part of the offer.
It also noted that the ad stated "#PROSECCOPAYDAY IS BACK" and the offer was intended to coincide with pay day. "We therefore considered that, in the context of an offer for unlimited alcohol, some readers might associate socialising and partying with colleagues and friends to mean that an excessive amount of alcohol was intended to be consumed, in order to celebrate pay day," the ASA said.
It also ruled that that impression was reinforced by the image in the third advert, showing Prosecco cascading into several glasses and the reference in the terms to "free flowing Prosecco".
It instructed Prezzo to ensure its advertising was socially responsibly and contained nothing likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that were unwise.
Videos from The Caterer archives