Advertisers that use drug-related imagery in their campaigns are being
warned this week against being socially irresponsible by inadvertently
encouraging teenagers to join the drugs culture.
The Advertising Standards Authority issued its warning in the wake of
the death of Leah Betts after taking an ecstasy tablet and following a
row over the promotion of so-called Legal e-buzz bombs - a herbal
substance claimed to create the euphoric feelings normally associated
with illegal drugs.
The ASA has upheld complaints about an ad for the buzz bombs in the
youth magazine, M8, which claimed it was ‘an unbelievable alternative to
illegal ecstasy, giving a feeling normally associated with illegal
The ad said that the buzz bombs were ‘fucking wicked’ and asked: ‘Why
take risks? Stay legal and get the dog’s bollocks alternative.’
The ASA said the ad, produced by the West Midlands company, Elite
Creative Marketing, was unacceptable because it encouraged a climate of
acceptance of drugs despite claims that the product was an alternative
The ruling has spurred the ASA to warn creatives to be careful about the
use of drugs-related images, which could easily be interpreted as a
callous exploitation of teenagers.