Rum peddler Captain Morgan has come under fire from the UK ads watchdog for using a Snapchat lens that could appeal to underage teenagers.
In response, the drinks firm has suspended all its advertising with Snap globally, while it assess the incremental age verification safeguards that Snapchat is implementing.
The lens made the user's face look like Captain Morgan in an ad depicting a cartoon icon of the 17th century Welsh privateer who gives the booze brand its name. The filter featured two glasses clinking together on screen and a flying seagull holding a scroll emblazoned with "Live like the Captain."
Diageo Great Britain, the brand's owner, said it was careful to only target the ad at 18-year-olds and up, while Snap said in the UK it only directed alcohol advertising to users who provided a date of birth that showed them to be over 18.
A spokesman from Diageo said: “We have a strict marketing code, take our role as a responsible marketer very seriously and acknowledge the ASA’s ruling."
"We took all reasonable steps to ensure the content we put on Snapchat was not directed at under 18s - using the data provided to us by Snapchat and applying an age filter."
Snapchat is usually associated with youngsters sharing self-deleting photos with each other, although the company makes most of its cash through advertising.
However, the Advertising Standards Authority upheld the complaint, as it considered the icon was a "bright, child-like cartoon image which we noted was similar in style to the other icons for non-paid for Snapchat lenses. In that context, we considered that the icon image of a cartoon pirate was of particular appeal to under-18s."
It added that the specific interactive and augmented elements of the lens – such as the user's face being made to look like a buccaneer, the clinking glasses, references to "Captain" and the cheering – were also likely to appeal particularly to the underaged.
The ASA also noted research from Ofcom showing that out of a group of 104 of those aged 8-11 years who had social media accounts, 34 per cent had Snapchat profiles.
The regulator said the ad must not appear again in its current form. "We told Captain Morgan to ensure their ads were appropriately targeted in the future and that they were not of particular appeal to under-18s."
Aye, let that be a lesson to ye! ®
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