Company: Bacardi-Martini Limited
Final Decision: 12 June 2014
Considered under the 4th Edition of the Code.
The product is Bacardi Breezer and is presented in a number of brightly coloured fruit flavours. I believe that this attracts and encourages underage drinking and the packaging makes no effort to dissuade younger/under-age drinkers … These drinks look and taste like juice drinks, so are very dangerous to young people…
Breezers shows (sic) two variants of the drink, Orange and Watermelon. The packaging design is brightly coloured, emphasises the fruit flavours and minimises any reference to alcohol, making it unclear to younger people what the alcohol content actually is (i.e. similar to many beers/ales).
Soft Drinks is (sic) provided as a comparison, showing that the bright colours of Breezers compare directly to soft drinks and therefore appeal in the same way.
Beer is provided as further comparison to indicate that the packaging actually is not the first thing that immediately attracts, the dark bottled contents overwhelm the labelling when compared to Breezers and soft drinks. It is obviously (sic) that Breezers are designed to appeal to younger, possibly underage drinkers, especially aligned to the fact that they have been flavoured so as not to taste alcoholic. Unlike a great many beers of equivalent strength.
A member of the public.
Under Code paragraph 3.1
The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(h)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way have a particular appeal to under 18s.
The company’s submission
The company asserted that it was strongly committed to the responsible marketing of all of its products and complied with its one internal global marketing Code. Furthermore, as members of the Portman Group, it undertook regular marketing training with the Portman Group.It explained that Breezer was often referred to as a ‘ready-to-drink’ and was launched in the UK in the mid-90s. In that time, the company had not received a complaint about the product. The latest packaging of Breezer was launched in 2013 following consultation throughout the development phase with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service.
The company went on to say that the presentation of the products was clearly adult in appeal: the alcoholic nature and strength of the products was prominent on both primary and secondary packaging, and the words ‘fruit wine-based’ and ‘alc4%’ were written in bold text on the front label of the bottles and on the secondary packaging. This information, together with the UK Chief Medical Officers’ alcohol consumption guidance was repeated on the products’ back label. In the company’s view, therefore, this made the alcoholic nature of the products clear.
The company then responded to the complainant’s assertion that the products had a particular appeal to under-18s. It said that watermelon and orange (flavours) appealed to adults of legal drinking age and above, and did not, as the complainant claimed, appeal particularly to, or have a predominant association with, under-18s. Furthermore, the company felt the colour of the products and packaging reflected the products’ flavour, and were not artificially bright.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel considered whether the products had a particular appeal to under-18s. In doing so the Panel considered whether the product packaging, both primary and secondary, was clear in conveying its alcoholic nature, in addition to looking at the products as a whole, taking into account the product colour, label font, language and absence/presence of other imagery on the label.
The Panel noted that the front label of the product featured the text ‘fruit wine-based’ together with the product strength statement ‘alc 4% vol’; this information was repeated on the reverse label along with alcohol health information and the descriptor ‘an alcoholic refreshing sparkling, fruit wine-based drink’. The Panel also noted several other visual cues: the size and shape of the bottle, the crown cap and the absence of any ‘negative cues’ (fruit images). In light of these factors, the Panel concluded that the product did not breach Code paragraph 3.1.
The Panel then went on to consider whether the products had a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel noted that the products were brightly coloured. The Panel felt however that colour alone would not be enough to lead a product to appeal particularly to under-18s. Furthermore, the Panel recognised that the colours were chosen to represent the fruit flavour and were not artificially bright. In light of this, the Panel concluded that the product did not have a particular appeal to under-18s and was not in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(h).
Action by company
No action required.