A Queensland business which makes storage vessels for kids food and beverages has had a complaint against it upheld by the Advertising Standards Board.
Sinchies sent an email to its subscribers ahead of Christmas which included an image of Bundaberg Rum in one of the food and beverage pouches.
Complainants were upset that Sinchies are primarily targeted as kids’ food pouches but the email encouraged smuggling alcohol in them.
“Do we really need to give people ideas on this topic as in my response my children know these are for them and it only takes me to fill one with alcohol and one of my kids to get it thinking it’s food and I’m then giving them alcohol,” one complainant said.
The Advertising Standards Board found the suggestion by Sinchies that alcohol could or should be smuggled is a suggestion the pouch can be used to take alcohol somewhere it is prohibited.
“This could be either by a person who is underage or by an adult to an alcohol-free venue or event and this is not a depiction that is in line with community values around the appropriate consumption of alcohol,” the board found.
“The board considered that the suggestion the product can be used to ‘smuggle’ alcohol is contrary to prevailing community standards on the moderate consumption and responsible service of alcohol.”
The ASB held the advertisement did breach requirements that advertising or marketing comply with prevailing community standards on health and safety.
Samantha Spunner, founder and owner of Sinchies, told SmartCompany she shouldn’t have used the word smuggling in the email campaign.
“It was just more of a fun thing around Christmas time that we had wanted to do,” she says.
“You can get pouches of alcohol from bottle shops so we just thought it was something fun for Christmas.”
Spunner says Sinchies has expanded beyond its origins in kids’ food pouches and customers now use Sinchies for everything from toiletries to spice storage.
“It was just one person out of the 12,000 who received that email who had a problem,” she says.
But Michelle Gamble, owner of Marketing Angels, told SmartCompany the board’s decision is the correct one.
“It’s not hugely offensive but it is encouraging behavior which is against the law, which is clearly what the ASB is upset about,” she says.
“The underlying thing is Sinchies has built its brand on a core target market of parents buying for children.”
Gamble says trying to showcase other uses for the product in a tongue in cheek way failed as it was executed poorly.
She advises businesses take care in the emails they send to their databases.
“People still say email is the main way they want to find out about products and services so it is still super effective,” she says.
“But the people who read them are your most loyal customers, so you do have to be really careful.”