Company: Asda Stores Ltd
Final Decision: 27 January 1999
Considered under the 2nd Edition of the Code
Under 3.3, pineapple‘ and ‘grapefruit‘ are often drunk by under 18s and these words are very large, making consumers believe it could be a soft drink... on the neck it states it’s white rum but the [main] label makes it out to be a soft drink, [apart from the small ‘alcoholic‘ sign 3.2(a). I believe that this drink] makes out it has ‘superior strength‘ 3.1(b), Asda [has previously had to remove .. the same wording ... from ‘Bite‘ packaging... because of a complaint in Code Report 4. I don‘t see how (this is different except that it uses] more artificially bright colours 3.1~(h)(iii).
Member of the public from Coventry
Under Code paragraph 3.1(a)
The brand name, product descriptor, packaging (including any containers and any external wrapping), labelling and point of sale materials of any alcoholic drink should not in any direct or indirect way suggest any confusion as to the alcoholic nature and strength of the product, but should clearly communicate the alcoholic nature of the product and its strength to the purchaser or consumer.
Under Code paragraph 3.1(b)
The brand name, product descriptor, packaging (including any containers and any external wrapping), labelling and point of sale materials of any alcoholic drink should not in any direct or indirect way have as its dominant theme the alcoholic strength or its relatively high alcohol content.
Under Code paragraph 3.3
A pre-packaged alcoholic drink/mixer combination must not use, or imply and association with, any name, brand name or product description predominantly associated with under 18s; in particular, words such as lemonade and cola shall be used with the utmost care to avoid any possible confusion with drinks popular with under 18s.
The company’s submission
The company does not agree there could be any confusion with a soft drink because:
- the words ‘alcoholic‘ and the abv are “marked on the label in the brightest colour“, whereas the words ‘pineapple and grapefruit‘ are relatively indistinct;
- the neck label includes the words ‘white rum‘;
- the reverse label includes “bold” references to the word ‘alcoholic‘, a bright red triangle containing the words ‘not for sale to anyone under the age of 18′ and a symbol indicating the number of units of alcohol contained in the bottle.
The company assures the Panel that it is ‘very conscious‘ of the problems relating to under age sales and that, as a result, alcoholic drinks are always merchandised from a special area in the store; checkout operators are trained in responsible merchandising; and tills are programmed to give an audible and visible prompt when alcoholic drinks are scanned.
The company would be happy to remove the words ‘superior strength‘ if necessary, especially since these words were mentioned in a previous upheld complaint about an Asda product.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel noted that the front label clearly exhibited the words “white rum”, “alcoholic” and “5% vol strength”, and that the back label also showed the alcoholic strength and the number of units of alcohol contained in the bottle. In the Panel’s view the product’s alcoholic nature and strength were clearly communicated. Thus the Panel did not uphold the complaint under Code paragraph 3.1(a).
Since in the Panel’s view the product was clearly one of adult appeal” it did not consider further the provisions of Code Paragraph 3.2.
The Panel expressed concern that the company had used the phrase “Superior Strength” on the product’s label. However, although the Panel considered that the company was using the phrase as a significant selling feature, the Panel did not consider that the alcoholic strength or relatively high alcoholic content could be said to be the dominant theme of the product’s presentation as proscribed by the Code. Hence the Panel did not uphold the complaint under Code paragraph 3.1(b).
The Panel considered that the colours used for the product and the packaging were not artificially bright. Neither pineapple nor grapefruit (nor the two together) were predominantly associated with under 18s. Likewise, as used in connection with the product, neither (nor the two names together) were more likely to appeal to under 18s. For these reasons, the Panel did not uphold the complaint under Code paragraphs 3.1(h) or 3.3.
Action by company
No action required.