Northern Ireland nightclub's 'passed out student' promotion 'encouraged illegal, excessive or irresponsible drinking', panel finds
A complaints panel which handles the responsible promotion of alcohol has found against a Northern Ireland nightclub for advertising an A-Level results party with an image of a young man passed out drunk.
The Coach Nightclub in Banbridge also apologised for using a picture from the 2012 film "Project X" to promoting an event on August 15.
It showed a young man lying unconscious on a patch of grass with empty cups scattered around him.
The Independent Complaints Panel of the Joint Industry Code for the Responsible Promotion and Retailing of Alcohol said the club had encouraged illegal, excessive or irresponsible drinking in using the image.
The panel said the club had also used images of people who looked as though they were under 25 and did not state no-one under 18 could take part in the promotion.
The PSNI and local council is to be informed of the ruling.
It's not yet known whether the upholding of the complaint will affect the nightclub's alcohol licence, which is awarded by the courts service.
A spokesperson for Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council said: "On receipt of any application for the grant, renewal or transfer of an entertainment licence, the Council will consider observations submitted by PSNI and any representation made to the Council.
"The Local Government Miscellaneous Provisions Order (NI) 1985 sets out a number of matters that Council must consider on receipt of any application for an entertainment licence."
The Coach acknowledged the promotion "overstepped the mark" and apologised.
Marketing below a certain standard will not be tolerated.
Duncan McCausland is chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, which self-regulates on behalf of the industry on acceptable standards for those who produce, promote and sell alcohol in Northern Ireland.
"This should send a message out to those involved in the promotion and retail of alcohol that marketing which falls below the required standards will not be tolerated and that action will be taken against those who flout the code," he said.
"The next step for the panel is to write to the PSNI and the local council to inform them of our decision to complete the assessment and adjudication process."
He commended the nightclub for engaging with the panel's investigation.
A spokesperson for the Coach nightclub said: "We acknowledge that our marketing overstepped the mark and will ensure that we meet with the standards required in future. Our priority is that our customers are safe and can have a good time in an environment that does not put their wellbeing in jeopardy.
"We apologise unreservedly. It was not our intention to promote excessive behaviour and have taken appropriate actions to adapt our marketing in future."
Speaking in August when the promotion was first released, Colin Neill, chief executive of Hospitality Ulster, which represents the Northern Ireland drinks industry, said he had referred the promotion to the panel.
He said: "No promotion should encourage over-consumption or abuse of alcohol and licensees have a responsibility, both legal and moral, to ensure they promote the consumption of alcohol in a responsible way.
“The constant evolution of social media platforms means that there is an even greater need to ensure staff and event promoters are fully aware of the Code and ensure all promotions are checked before publication."