Company: Haggards Brewery
Final Decision: 26 May 2000
Considered under the 2nd Edition of the Code.
“Under section 3.1(a), it is not obviously evident that the product contains alcohol. Under section 3.1(h), the product being jelly appears to be aimed at the young/underage.”
Greater Manchester Police
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(h)
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 be more likely to appeal to under 18s than adults through, for example use of:
(i) imagery or allusion to under 18s culture
(ii) designs or marketing techniques which are based on or resemble existing characters which are popular in predominantly under 18s culture or newly created design characters or motifs which allude to such culture
Under Code paragraph 3.3
A pre-packaged alcoholic drink/mixer combination must not use, or imply any association with, any name, brand name or product description predominantly associated with under 18s; in particular, words such as lemonade or cola shall be used with the utmost care to avoid any possible confusion with drinks popular with under 18s.
The company’s submission
“It is the position of Haggards Brewery that it’s product Bad Jelly does not ‘appeal particularly’ (Section 1.2 of the Code) to underage drinkers. However, the Company does accept that the labels currently used fall short of standards set out in the Code, and will change the label accordingly when the next label run is ordered.”
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel decided that the alcoholic nature of the product was not clearly communicated. The top of the product was the most prominent part of the packaging and this made no mention of alcohol. A statement that the product contained alcohol was difficult to read by virtue of its size, positioning and colouring. In the Panel’s view, the container’s shape and size, and the jelly’s colours (visible through the transparent container) were reminiscent of a dessert or baking product and did not suggest an alcoholic product. These features taken together meant that the alcoholic nature of the product was not clearly communicated as required by paragraph 3.1(a) of the Code. The Panel also noted that the company itself had accepted that the alcoholic nature of the product had not been “given the profile that [The Portman Group] would desire.”
Hence the Panel upheld the complaint under paragraph 3.1(a) of the Code.
The Panel decided that the product would be more likely to appeal to under 18s than to adults. It considered that the style of lettering was more likely to appeal to under 18s than adults in contravention of Code paragraph 3.1(h)(iii) and that the word “jelly”, which nowadays was a product predominantly associated with under 18s, had not been used with sufficient care to avoid confusion with products aimed at this age group. Furthermore, the Panel considered that the adjective “bad” was likely to reinforce an appeal to under 18s culture, as was the product’s texture and colour, visible through the transparent container.
Hence the Panel upheld the complaint under Code paragraphs 3.1(h)(i) and (ii) (in conjunction with 3.4) and 3.3.
The Panel found that the overall appearance of the product was not clearly one of adult appeal. It considered that the common name of the alcoholic ingredient (vodka) in the ingredients listing was far from prominent because it was typeset in very small letters and had to be read at an angle of 90 degrees.
Thus the Panel upheld the complaint under paragraph 3.2(i) of the Code.
The function of the Panel was to decide complaints under the Code and it was unable to advise or comment on the draft new label enclosed with the company’s letter of 17th February 2000.
The Panel had, however, noted that the company had stated in a subsequent letter dated 14 April 2000 that it was in communication with the separate Portman Group Advisory Service and intended to comply with the Code.
Action by company
A Retailer Alert Bulletin was issued to the relevant licensing authorities.