Complaint against Heineken’s Orchard Thieves cider not upheld

A recent complaint about Heineken’s Orchard Thieves cider was not upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (ICP). A copy of the full decision is available here.

The ICP reviewed the product on the grounds that it had appeal to under-18s (rule 3.2(h)), due to the packaging’s depiction of a silhouetted fox, and on the basis that the inclusion of the word ‘thieves’ in the product name suggested the encouragement of illegal behaviour (rule 3.2 (b)).

When considering whether the product had particular appeal to under 18s, the Panel concluded that the imagery used on the can was mature in nature as the fox was not deemed to be cartoon-like and the colours used throughout the can’s design were muted.

The ICP also considered the product under Rule 3.2(b) and concluded that given the absence of any human characteristics on the fox, and the fictional brand narrative, there was no link to, or encouragement of, illegal behaviour.

Commenting on the decision the Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, Jenny Watson CBE, said:

“After careful consideration, the ICP concluded that Orchard Thieves did not contravene any of the Code’s rules. The packaging, due to its muted colours, did not appeal to children and the only connection to theft was in relation to a fox taking apples from an orchard, rather than anything that could be construed as illegal behaviour.

Regarding the decision, a spokesperson for Heineken commented: “We take the responsible promotion of our products very seriously and welcome the robust review and scrutiny by the Independent Complaints Panel.  We’re pleased that the Panel agrees our packaging and promotion of Orchard Thieves Cider falls within the strict Code.”