Dead Pony Club ale breaches alcohol marketing Code


The packaging of Dead Pony Club, a pale ale produced by BrewDog, has broken alcohol marketing rules for encouraging both anti-social behaviour and rapid drinking.

The Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) considered the product following an independent audit of drinks last year, administered by Campden BRI on behalf of the Portman Group.

Dead Pony Club’s packaging was identified as being in potential breach of the Code for its association with bravado and immoderate consumption, and for placing undue emphasis on the strength and intoxicating effect of the alcohol in the product. The producer did not make representations to the Panel.  

The Panel considered the overall impression conveyed by the product, the strength of the beer (Alc 3.8% Vol), as well as the text on the back label.

Whilst acknowledging that the beer was of a lower-than-average strength and that one bottle was well within the recommended daily unit guidelines, the ICP concluded the line on the label, ‘rip it up down empty streets’, associated the product with anti-social behaviour.

The ICP also concluded that the product did not promote immoderate consumption. However, it did rule that the phrases ‘drink fast, live fast’ and ‘we believe faster is better’ could encourage the consumer to drink the product rapidly. Consequently, the product was found by the Panel to be in breach of Code paragraphs 3.2 (b) and (g).

Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, which provides the Secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said:

“The Code rules do not exist to prevent humorous or innovative brand marketing but to make sure that humour is used responsibly. We urge producers to exercise due diligence and consult our Code Advisory Team if they are in any doubt.”

A Retailer Alert Bulletin has been issued instructing licensees and retailers not to place orders for stocks of Dead Pony Club in its current packaging after 8 July 2014.

Rulings made by the Panel are published in full on the Portman Group’s website and further details of the case together with the Retailer Alert Bulletin can be found here.