“After looking up G. O. A. T. in relation to alcohol on google I found two options: The first related to a treatment for alcohol use disorder Manipulating Ghrelin Signaling Via GOAT Inhibition in Alcohol Use Disorder – Full Text View – ClinicalTrials.gov. This was the search GOAT in alcohol text – Search (bing.com) The second g. o. a. t. meaning – Search (bing.com) stated that this stood for the ‘greatest of all time’. Like me, not everyone will understand that GOAT stands for and so may reasonably believe that this is linked to a treatment for alcohol use disorder. I am also going to refer this on to the MHRA and ASA.”
The Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA)
Under Code paragraph 3.2(j)
3.2(j) A drink, its packaging or promotion should not suggest that the product has therapeutic qualities, can enhance mental or physical capabilities, or change mood or behaviour.
The Company’s Submission
The company stated that it took complaints about its marketing seriously and recognised the importance of complying with UK marketing rules for the alcohol industry.
The company explained that it had worked closely with the Advertising Standards Authority to ensure its marketing was at the required standard and understood the significance in protecting consumers from irresponsible alcohol promotions that could contribute to a risk of harm.
The company explained that Au Vodka GOAT was a personalised product which was promoted online as an exclusive for a limited time period. The company asserted that consumers would be familiar with such personalised versions of its products which also included ‘Au Vodka Happy Birthday’ and ‘Au Vodka Congratulations’.
The company explained that the online marketing for Au GOAT contained very clear reference in the product description as to the intended meaning of GOAT, including ‘let someone know they are the G.O.A.T’ and ‘a custom Au Vodka GOAT’ message bottle. The company stated that the Cambridge Dictionary, Macmillin Dictionary and Urban Dictionary all listed that ‘GOAT’ could be understood to mean the ‘Greatest Of All Time’, and that this definition was well known by consumers.
The company stated that nothing in the drinks marketing or packaging suggested that the product had therapeutic qualities or could enhance mental or physical capabilities or change mood or behaviour. Finally, the company did not believe that consumers would reasonably associate the drink with treatment for alcohol use disorder based on consumer understanding of the term and the product’s marketing which made its usage clear.
The Panel’s Assessment
The Panel discussed whether the packaging of Au Vodka GOAT suggested the drink had therapeutic qualities and was linked to treatment for alcohol use disorder. The Panel considered how the average consumer would likely interpret the name ‘GOAT’. The Panel noted that ‘GOAT’ was commonly used to refer to a person as the ‘Greatest Of All Time’ and that most consumers would be familiar with this definition, as was also reflected in the Cambridge Dictionary, Macmillan Dictionary and Urban Dictionary definitions. The Panel discussed the terminology raised by the complainant and considered that the average consumer was unlikely to be familiar with the term as a form of treatment for alcohol use disorder. The Panel also noted that there was nothing on the packaging or accompanying marketing which suggested that the drink could be used as part of a treatment for alcohol use disorder. The Panel then discussed whether the drinks name, packaging or wider marketing materials suggested the drink had therapeutic qualities, or could enhance physical or mental capabilities, to help a consumer become the ‘Greatest Of All Time’. The Panel reviewed the product descriptor text on the company’s website and noted that it included the messaging ‘let someone know they are the G.O.A.T’. The Panel considered that a consumer would understand the line to mean gifting the drink to someone who they considered the ‘Greatest Of All Time’, rather than a suggestion that the drink could help the individual become the ‘Greatest Of All Time’.
The Panel noted that only an image of the front of the bottle was provided as part of the complaint and as a limited-edition product that had sold out, it did not have access to the physical product. In this particular instance, the Panel was satisfied that as the complaint pertained to the product name, and the product descriptor text had been shared to demonstrate how the product was marketed, the Panel had the necessary information to reach a decision. However, the Panel emphasised that if any new evidence came to light regarding the back label of the product that suggested that consumption could aid a consumer in becoming the ‘Greatest Of All Time’, the name could be found in breach of the Code.
On the basis of the available evidence, the Panel concluded that the name did not suggest the drink had a therapeutic quality, could enhance mental or physical capabilities, or change mood and behaviour. Accordingly, the complaint was not upheld under 3.2(j).
Action by Company:
No action required.