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Pub in Trouble After Putting Promotional Flyers in Children’s School Bags

Parents in Northampton were not happy with the “£5 off and a free drink” leaflets. Great deal, though.
Photo via Flickr user Comrade King

Remember the stuff you'd hoard in your school bag? A tattered homework diary covered in bubble stickers. A half-eaten Kit Kat and a mouldy tangerine from who knows when, or a flyer about a school bake sale that happened three weeks ago. Not to mention those detention slips.

But when parents in Northampton picked through the debris of their kids' book bags earlier this year, they found something more shocking than decomposing food and evidence that you'd been skipping PE again.


In May, a pub in the East Midlands town reopened and decided to mark the occasion by offering a drinks promotion to locals. But rather than put an ad in the local paper or stick a billboard outside the premises, managers made the unusual decision to give out flyers to kids at a nearby primary school. And they say people don't drink underage anymore.

After finding the "£5 off and a free drink" leaflets (great deal, tbf) in school book bags, parents complained to the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) that the ad was "irresponsible because it was directed at children." Yesterday, the advertising watchdog announced that it had upheld the complaint.

Greene King, the brewery that owns the pub, defended the marketing move and argued that the leaflet did not explicitly reference alcoholic drinks, with the only mention of booze being in the small print on the back. While the ASA acknowledged there were no alcohol brands or logos used, they ruled that it breached advertising laws because "the leaflet was distributed to a person who was under 18 years of age and that the leaflet referred to alcoholic drinks."

MUNCHIES reached out to Greene King to find out why the school was chosen as a target for marketing but did not hear back at the time of publishing.

Maybe that survey about parents rewarding their kids' good grades with booze was onto something, after all?

Editor's note: Greene King later responded to our request for comment with the following statement: "The leaflet was designed to encourage families to visit the pub. As the ASA noted in their ruling, the only reference to alcohol was included in the small print on the back of the leaflet. The decision was taken locally and we have reminded our pub managers that they should not be doing any local marketing activity at schools."