Sex, drugs and rock'n'roll argument fails to save cocaine ad

By Jennifer Whitehead,, brandrepublic.com, Wednesday, 13 March 2002 08:45AM

LONDON - An advertisement alluding to cocaine use and carrying the strapline "VH1: Music TV that's not for kids" has been accused by the advertising watchdog of condoning drug use.

The ad for music TV channel VH1 showed a rolled-up banknote and three differently coloured straws, with the banknote appearing to have a white substance on the end.

VH1 argued that the ad, created by Malcolm Moore Deakin Blayze, did not condone drug use. Furthermore, it said that the white edge of the banknote was a by-product of the Warholesque screen-print style of the ad, which featured images that were slightly out of register.

The advertisers argued that the "sex, drugs and rock'n'roll" cliche summarised the music industry and that to ignore it was against the essence of rock music. VH1 said the allusion to cocaine was vague and that people who saw the poster would understand that it was poking fun at the industry.

While the Advertising Standards Authority accepted the explanation of the white edge on the banknote, it said that with the strapline "Music TV that's not for kids", the poster was implying that it was acceptable for adults to take drugs and thereby condoning illegal drug usage. In upholding the complaint, the ASA told VH1 not to use the image again.

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This article was first published on brandrepublic.com

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