The promotional advert by the ready-to-drink (RTD) brand featured an image of a group of young people dancing, during a typical club scene.
The image showed several people with their heads tilted back, drinking from bottles of VK and at the top of the image, text stated “drinkaware.co.uk for the facts”.
The caption of the post said “Here’s a #TipTuesday for ya… VK is always better with your squad” followed by two 'stick-out tongue' emojis.
Global Brands responded to the claim and said VK was predominantly drunk by students and, as such, their target audience age was between 18 and 25.
It said the use of emojis was a reflection of how the adult audience interacted online and provided evidence to show that 92% of online consumers used emojis when interacting online.
It added that the image was taken in an ID-controlled nightclub, which was only accessible to customers aged 18 and above, and therefore they were confident that the image did not feature anyone under the legal drinking age.
The drinks company also defended the advert’s promotion on social media and said it was strictly targeted to users aged 18 and above, and provided evidence to support that.
It explained that the image was a user-generated post, which had been sent to them from university students and it featured a group of friends who had dressed themselves up as VK bottles and were taking a swig.
Global Brands argued that the bottles visible in the image were all more than half full and therefore did not promote excessive drinking.
The ASA ruled that the advert must not appear in its current form and that it informed VK to ensure its adverts did not encourage unwise drinking styles or feature people who looked under 25, playing a significant role.
Global Brands accepted the ASA ruling and said it would ensure the image was removed from all marketing platforms.
It added that it would continue to ensure it adhered and worked closely alongside ASA codes.
The ASA banned an advert last year (November) by RTD brand Hooch – also owned by Global Drinks.
Global Brands hit out at the ruling and senior brand manager Christian Sarginson said the company was “extremely disappointed” with the decision.