Cat Piss, Dog Piss, Bullshit, Dandelion & Birdshit..

12/06/2014

Company: Direct Beers
Breach: Yes

Complaint Summary:

I would like to make a complaint about products produced by Direct Beers which were available at the Christmas Market in Newcastle upon Tyne and via the internet at this website: http://directbeers.com/Bottled-Beers.php

I have outlined which products I believe to be in breach of the code and why:

Product Rules for naming, packaging and promotion Reason
Cat Piss (h) Likely to appeal to
under
18s
Use of cartoon character and childish font and humour likely to appeal to children.
Dog Piss (h) Likely to appeal to
under
18s
Use of cartoon character and childish font and humour likely to appeal to children
Bullshit (h) Likely to appeal to
under
18s
Use of cartoon character and childish font and humour likely to appeal to children
Dandelion & Birdshit ((h) Likely to appeal to
under
18s
Use of cartoon character and childish font and humour likely to appeal to children
Big Cock (h) Likely to appeal to
under
18s and (d) suggest an association with sexual activity
Use of cartoon character and childish font and humour likely to appeal to children. This is a euphemism for the male sexual organ and therefore can be associated with sexual activity.
Grumpy Git (h) Likely to appeal to
under
18s
Use of cartoon character and childish font and humour likely to appeal to children.
Arse Liquor (h) Likely to appeal to
under
18s
Use of cartoon character and childish font and humour likely to appeal to children.
Lazy Sod (h) Likely to appeal to
under
18s
Use of cartoon character and childish font and humour likely to appeal to children.
Puke (f) Encourages immoderate consumption
(h) Likely to appeal to under 18s,
The images and wording suggest that the person has vomited due to excessive alcohol consumption. Use of cartoon character and childish font and humour likely to appeal to children.
Shitfaced (f) Encourages immoderate consumption.
(h) Likely to appeal to under-18s
The term shitfaced is a term used to describe extreme intoxication. Use of cartoon character and childish font is likely to appeal to children.
Yellow Snow (h) Likely to appeal to
under
18s
Use of cartoon character and childish font and humour likely to appeal to children.
Knobhead (h) Likely to appeal to under
18s and (d) suggest an association with sexual activity
Use of cartoon character and childish font likely to appeal to children. This image is associated with sexual activity as the mistletoe is placed near the male genital area.

Complainant:

Public Health Team at Newcastle City Council

Decision:

Cat Piss – 3.2(h) UPHELD

Dog Piss – 3.2(h) UPHELD

Bullshit – 3.2(h) UPHELD

Dandelion & Birdshit – 3.2(h) UPHELD

Big Cock – 3.2(d) and 3.2(h) UPHELD

Grumpy Git – 3.2(h) NOT UPHELD

Arse Liquor – 3.2(h) UPHELD

Lazy Sod – 3.2(h) NOT UPHELD

Puke - 3.2(f) and 3.2(h) UPHELD

Shitfaced - 3.2(b), 3.2(f) and 3.2(h) UPHELD

Yellow Snow - 3.2(b) and 3.2(h) UPHELD

Knobhead - 3.2(d), 3.2(f) and 3.2(h) UPHELD

The company addressed each Code rule and some products individually when responding to the complaint.

The company asserted that none of the products appealed to under-18s and that as an organisation that had complete control of the retailing of the products they were in a position to confirm this. The company explained that the products were usually sold at retail events, such as Newcastle Christmas Market, while less than 1% of their output was sold via the website, which was not promoted and had prohibitive pricing in place (£3.50 for one beer). In addition to this, the company said it adopted the ‘Challenge 25 Policy’ at all of the events at which they retailed and as part of this policy they kept day books in which they logged the time and date of every challenge, including the name of the customer. After checking the day books from 2013 the company confirmed that there were only 3 attempts by under-18s to purchase products from them. The company also stated that under-18s in general would not find the products palatable or desirable in terms of the images or humour on the labels.

The company specifically addressed ‘Big Cock’ and explained that it was a harmless double entendre which British adult humour was accustomed to. The company said that they were convinced that the product had never caused any harm and was instead a common gift from females to their husband/ boyfriend.

The company stated that Puke had been discontinued.

The company explained that Shitfaced was not purchased in a manner that was consistent with immoderate consumption and that most of their customers were, once again, females who were purchasing the product as part of a gift pack. The company said that this was reaffirmed by their sales which peak at Christmas and the days leading up to Father’s Day. In contrast, the company stated that they did not sell any products between the ‘party season’ of Christmas and New Year.

The company stated that Knobhead was a relatively new product and acknowledged that they were a little nervous as to how people would react to the product. The company went on to say that the product proved to be very popular amongst their typical female customer-base who generally purchased bottles for their male relatives. The company claimed that not a single person had noticed the mistletoe being held about Father Christmas’ genital area as depicted in the image and that no one had made any association between the product and sexual activity of any kind. The company explained that while the label did seek to make fun of the behaviour of people during the Christmas party season it did not encourage improper behaviour of any kind.

The Panel began by saying that it recognised that the company had positioned itself in the greeting card market, that the products were meant to be tongue-in-cheek, and marketed in a different way and for a particular market. The Panel felt, nevertheless, that the Code applied to any product that was marketed for sale and consumption in the UK, regardless of the market it was aimed at or how it was promoted.

The Panel went on to note that many of the product names and images were based on scatological humour, focusing on defecation, urination, vomiting and other bodily functions, genitalia and sexual activity. The Panel felt that this type of humour was popular among a wide range of ages, but was especially popular with children and teenagers. The Panel also noted that nearly all the labels featured a cartoon-style image, some of animals, or Christmas-themed cartoons, and some were more cartoon-like than others. They were particularly concerned about the cartoon images which featured Father Christmas in this context.

The Panel first considered if any of the products would have a particular appeal to under-18s in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(h). The Panel concluded that those labels which featured a cartoon-style image, combined with scatological humour, both in terms of image and product name, were likely to be in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(h). Applying this rationale while considering each of the products, the Panel’s decisions were as follows:

Cat Piss: The Panel concluded that the cartoon-style image of the cat (which Panel members noted looked like Tom from the ‘Tom & Jerry’ cartoon, and was also similar to a cat character in ‘The Simpsons’), in combination with the product name and scatological humour led this product to breach Code paragraph 3.2(h) as explained above.

Dog Piss: The Panel concluded that the cartoon-style image of the dog, in combination with the product name and the actions of the dog urinating against a fire-hydrant led this product to breach Code paragraph 3.2(h), as explained above. The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

Bullshit: The Panel concluded that the cartoon-style image of the bull, in combination with the product name, and the action of the bull about to sit on a toilet, led this product to breach Code paragraph 3.2(h), as explained above. The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

Dandelion & Birdshit: The Panel concluded that the cartoon-style image of the bird which looked like it had been drawn by a child, and the fact it had been depicted having just defecated, in combination with the product name, led this product to breach Code paragraph 3.2(h), as explained above. The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

Big Cock: The Panel concluded that the cartoon-style image of the cockerel, in combination with the product name, led this product to breach Code paragraph 3.2(h, as explained above. Furthermore, the Panel also noted that the word ‘Big Cock’ was often used as a euphemism for male genitalia, and that coupled with the headline ‘raised by hand’ and the image of a choked chicken suggested an association with the male sexual organ and therefore associated the product with sexual activity. The Panel therefore concluded that the product was also in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(d). The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

Grumpy Git: The product did not utilise the type of scatological humour used on nearly all the other labels. Although the image was a cartoon-style drawing of an old-man (the ‘Grumpy Git’) the Panel concluded that this alone did not lead the product to have a particular appeal to under-18s. Therefore, the Panel did not uphold the complaint against this product under Code paragraph 3.2(h). The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

Arse Liquor: The Panel concluded that the cartoon-style image of the man with a bottom as a face, in combination with the product name, led this product to breach Code paragraph 3.2(h), as explained above. The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

Lazy Sod: The product did not utilise the type of scatological humour used on nearly all the other labels. Although the image was of a monkey keeping cool on sun-lounger, the Panel concluded that this alone did not lead the product to have a particular appeal to under-18s. Therefore, the Panel did not uphold the complaint against this product under Code paragraph 3.2(h). The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

Puke: Although the company confirmed that the product had been discontinued the Panel decided to still consider the product in the event that it may be re-introduced in the future. The Panel concluded that the cartoon-style image of the man in combination with the product name, led this product to breach Code paragraph 3.2(h), as explained above. Furthermore, the Panel concluded that the headline ‘brewed for the morning after’ combined with the image and other text on the bottle, which stated ‘Ooooh, my head. You don’t want to know; seriously, you don’t want to know. Don’t even ask…Can someone please turn down the noise? Ooooh, never again...never again, draw the curtains please…blrgh, blrgh, blrraaaaghghghg. That’s better’, created a direct association with immoderate consumption as it represented the way a person would feel after drinking too much the night before. Therefore, the Panel concluded that the product was in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f). The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

Shitfaced: The Panel concluded that the cartoon-style image of Father Christmas, in combination with the product name, led this product to breach Code paragraph 3.2(h), as explained above. Furthermore, the Panel concluded that ‘shitfaced’ was a well-known euphemism for being very drunk, and that in combination with the drunk/jaded-looking Father Christmas, created a direct association with immoderate consumption. Therefore, the Panel concluded that the product was in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f).

The corner of the label featured a small illustration of what appeared to be a Father Christmas character sitting in an armchair shooting at a television. The Panel concluded that this image suggested an association with aggressive and dangerous behaviour and the label was therefore also in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(b). The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

Yellow Snow: The Panel concluded that the cartoon-style image of the snowman in combination with the product name, led this product to breach Code paragraph 3.2(h), as explained above. Given the name of the product, the Panel went on to consider whether urinating in public was anti-social. The Panel concluded that the illustration featured a dog urinating in public, and not a person, and this was normal behaviour for a dog. As a result, the Panel did not find that the label suggested any association with anti-social behaviour under Code paragraph 3.2(b).

The corner of the label featured a small illustration of what appeared to be Father Christmas sitting in an armchair shooting at a television. The Panel concluded that this image suggested an association with aggressive and dangerous behaviour and the label was therefore also in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(b). The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

Knobhead: The Panel concluded that the cartoon-style image of Father Christmas in combination with the product name, led this product to breach Code paragraph 3.2(h), as explained above. The Panel also went on to consider whether the product name in combination with the image of Father Christmas in his underwear holding a bunch of mistletoe above his genitalia, thereby inviting someone to perform fellatio on him, was in breach of the sexual activity/success Code paragraph. The Panel concluded that, while the name alone did not breach this Code paragraph, the name in combination with the image, which focused attention on Father Christmas’ genitalia, was a direct association with sexual activity. The Panel concluded that the product did breach Code paragraph 3.2(d).

The corner of the label featured a small illustration a Father Christmas character being sick over a toilet bowl. Text above the image read ‘Oh Santa, it’s Christmas party time again, and you just have to be a knob head don’t you? Well just for once, why don’t you keep your clothes on, keep your hands off the boss’s wife, stay away from the work experience girl, go easy on the spirits, stay off the dance floor, and just sit quietly with this bottle of Knob Head pale ale?’. The Panel discussed the implication of the text in combination with the image; it felt that while the text sought to discourage Father Christmas form acting inappropriately at the office party, the image suggested he had done otherwise, and was being sick through consuming too much alcohol, and this was a strong visual cue. In the Panel’s view this created an association with immoderate consumption and consequently found the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f). The Panel went on to consider whether the product was in breach of any other aspect of the Code; the Panel concluded that it was not.

The Panel took into consideration the points made in the company’s subsequent response in defense of the individual products. The Panel felt that the company had not presented any compelling reasons why the Panel should change its view in respect of any of the products. Accordingly, the Panel reaffirmed its previous decisions as above.

Action by company:

To be confirmed.

Documents:

Direct Beers Flyer
Direct Beers Flyer