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SWA blasts Bladnoch for sexist marketing campaign

Published:  23 July, 2019

Bladnoch Distillery has been reprimanded by the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA) for the sexist marketing of its True Scot brand.

The complaint related to images and text on the brand’s Instagram feed in connection with its ‘Don’t be told’ campaign.

The SWA’s independent complaints panel found a number of posts on the feed breached its code of practice. The breaches related to implied sexual success, demeaning images of women that went beyond generally accepted standards of good taste, and suggesting that to not drink alcohol was socially unacceptable.

An initial ruling by the SWA’s complaints committee in favour of the complainant earlier this year had been appealed by Bladnoch and referred to the independent panel for adjudication.

The initial complaint against Bladnoch had been brought by the Vinium Consultancy. The complaint said: “The brand’s Instagram account illustrates a repetitive habit of objectifying women through highly sexualized imagery, in some instances completely naked and without any relevance to the brand/industry.

“This outdated message helps perpetuate the belief that women are sexual aspirations, rather than valued consumers and celebrated trades people.”

In its defence, Bladnoch had “wholeheartedly rejected” the suggestion that the campaign breached the SWA’s code of practice. “You will find that there is no explicit suggestion that the consumption of our whiskies enhance sexual capabilities, attractiveness, masculinity or femininity, or would lead to sexual activity or success,” it said.

“Pure Scot’s marketing is appropriate for a brand which aims to set itself apart from the competition by daring to be different and breaking the mould of what traditional whisky marketing looks like. We have engaged a variety of talented and positive models and brand partners who embody a lifestyle and aesthetic that encapsulates Pure Scot’s daring personality.”

Bladnoch removed the images in question while the complaints procedure was still underway.

At the time of the ruling, the Pure Scot Instagram account had 17,000 followers and 461 posts.