Liquorland has been found in breach of a voluntary code of practice in its TV advertising, with the chain's ads accused of encouraging binge drinking, underage drinking and portraying an improper link between alcohol and sport.
The Alcoholic Beverages Advertising Code, led by its chief adjudicator and former Keating government attorney-general Michael Lavarch, has admonished five Liquorland ads that revolved around scenes of young adults partying, playing sport and engaging in social activities while grasping large quantities of wine, spirits or beer.
The ads, shown in January, sparked 49 complaints to ABAC, most concerning the depiction of young people drinking or gathering up large quantities of alcohol, the promotion of excessive drinking and alcohol-fuelled parties.
The complaints also raised the fact the ads were shown in the afternoon with an audience of all ages.
"The ad is contrary to the aim of preventing the deaths of young people through binge drinking, the need to consume alcohol to have a good time and to warn of the dangers associated with swimming etc and alcohol," one complaint read.
During one scene Matt Skinner, a sommelier and wine author who advises the Coles-owned Liquorland on wine, is seen clutching four bottles of wine, two in each hand, and leaving a store with two carrier bags that can hold a dozen bottles.
In its defence Coles said Liquorland - which has 633 stores - considered it had acted responsibly at all times and that it was reasonably apparent the advertising did not amount to a breach of ABAC when taking the content as a whole.
"The advertisements were intended to capture the Australian values of optimism, warmth, free-spiritedness and sharing great times with friends and had a theme of togetherness, camaraderie and group activity."
ABAC said all the ads failed to represent a balanced and responsible approach to consumption and encouraged excessive drinking.