SPAR

18/05/2018

Company: SPAR
Breach: YES

SPAR ‘Everyday Wine’ Press Releases

Producer:

SPAR UK Ltd

Complaint summary:

“I object to Spar’s new ‘Everyday Wine’ range under Section 3.2(f) of the Code of Practice. The CMO guidelines advise consumers who drink regularly to have alcohol-free days, to keep their risk of developing alcohol-related problems to a low level. In naming their range as ‘Everyday wine’, Spar are alluding to drinking the product every day, and therefore indirectly encouraging immoderate consumption. I note a similar complaint against Tesco’s ‘Everyday Value’ range in 2013 was not upheld, in part because the term ‘everyday’ was attributed to ‘value’ and not to the alcohol. This cannot be argued in here, given the absence of the word ‘value’. The same Tesco complaint was also not upheld because, whilst ‘everyday’ could imply every day usage, it could also mean ‘commonplace’ or ‘ordinary’. In the Spar case, this does not appear to be the intention, evidenced in @SPARintheUK’s tweet on 2/12/2017, which stated, “Our new everyday wine range is perfect for just that, every day!”

Complainant:

Alcohol Concern Wales

Decision:

Under Code paragraph 3.2(f)

A drink, its packaging and any promotional material should not in any direct or indirect way encourage illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as drink-driving, binge-drinking or drunkenness

            UPHELD

The company’s submission

The company stressed that it is a responsible retailer which takes the responsible retailing of alcohol very seriously. 

The company stated that the description “everyday wine” was not intended for consumer communication and that there was no intention to indicate that the range of wines should be consumed every day.  It explained that the term “everyday wine” was used in a trade press release in order to communicate to retailers the positioning of the wine as “entry level”.  The “everyday wine” range retails at £5 and the company wished to distinguish it from the “standard” range retailing at £6 and their “premium” range which is due to launch in May.

The company stated that the majority of its retailers are independent and it is therefore important that certain information, such as quality and price positioning, is communicated to its retail customers in a convenient and clear manner so that they are able to display the products accordingly. 

The company clarified that the term “everyday wine” was used in error once in a tweet by a member of staff; and, the tweet was removed as soon as the company was made aware of it.  This was the only instance in which it appeared in consumer facing communications and the term was never used in point-of-sale or advertising materials.

The company stated that it had taken steps to ensure the term “everyday wine” will not be used again in either consumer or retailer facing communications. 

The Panel’s assessment

The Panel only considered the press release, since social media promotional material was not within their remit. It noted the company’s assertion that the language used in the press releases was not intended to be consumer-facing.  It also acknowledged that “everyday” is a common retailer category definition used to differentiate between premium and value products.

The Panel then went on to discuss the company’s use of the phrase “everyday” and how this was presented to retailers.  The Panel noted that in both press releases the terminology used appeared as “everyday drinking” which immediately linked the messaging to daily consumption of the product.  The Panel debated whether the choice of the word “drinking”, in favour of other descriptors such as “quality”, “range” and “value”, was acceptable even if only appearing in trade communications.  The Panel concluded that all companies should carefully consider the language they use in brand communications, regardless of where the messaging appears.  In this particular case, the messaging was creating a direct correlation, possibly unintentionally, between low price and the acceptability of everyday alcohol consumption.  When considered in the context of the 2016 Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines on Low Risk Drinking, which advise those wishing to cut down the amount they drink to have several drink-free days a week, the Panel agreed that the term “everyday drinking” was unlikely to be acceptable.

The Panel acknowledged the company’s assertion that the press releases were used to communicate product range information to retailers to help them categorise the product on shelf. It questioned how aware retailers were that the messaging was for trade only, and not to be replicated in consumer facing materials. Although it did not consider social media activity, Panel members noted that confusion had already been caused within SPAR in order for a member of staff to use the phrase on social media.  The Panel were keen to urge producers to consider the reach and exposure of press releases in a digital age, as it had become almost impossible to restrict brand messaging to exclusively trade-facing channels without the messages being picked up by consumer channels. 

The Panel concluded that if the purpose of the phrase was to categorise the range as value, or non-premium, the company could have chosen a different phrase to describe the product range; and by using the term “everyday drinking” they had created a direct link with everyday alcohol consumption which was unlikely to be acceptable when considered in the context of the 2016 CMOs’ Guidelines on Low Risk Drinking.  The Panel also noted that the company did not include any responsible drinking messaging, or reference to Drinkaware, on the company website.  While the Panel acknowledged the company’s argument that the press releases were only intended for trade-facing communications they concluded that in a digital age of marketing there is always the possibility that a consumer may see trade communications and that the company should have chosen different language to communicate the product category to its retail customers.  Accordingly, the Panel upheld the press releases under Code paragraph 3.2(f).

The Panel welcomed the company’s confirmation that they would not use the term “everyday wine” again.

Action by Company:

The company confirmed that the term “everyday wine” will not be used again in either consumer or trade facing communications.