Company: Scottish Courage Ltd
Final Decision: 26 November 2004
Considered under the 3rd Edition of the Code.
“I am writing to complain about an alcoholic drink called ‘Bliss’. There is a well established teenage magazine which shares the same name. I believe that teenagers could easily believe that the two are linked. Many teenagers may be attracted to the drink because it reminds them of their favourite magazine. I also think the alcoholic nature of the drink is not immediately clear and at first glance it could be mistaken for a non alcoholic drink.”
Member of the public, Derby.
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(g)
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 Panel’s assessment
The Panel first considered whether the alcoholic nature of the drink was communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity. It noted that that the neck of the bottle and the screw top cap stated the descriptor ‘wine fusion’ several times and that the bottom of the front of the bottle stated either “A sparkling fusion of Californian Chardonnay & Berries” or “A sparkling fusion of Californian Chardonnay & Exotic Fruit Juices” together with the product’s alcoholic strength. The Panel considered that the image submitted to and considered to be acceptable by The Portman Group Advisory Service before the product was launched made the alcoholic nature particularly clear because it featured the descriptor “Chardonnay” in the centre of the front of the label. The Panel noted that this did not feature on the version that was actually used but nevertheless considered that the label communicated clearly the alcoholic nature of the product. Hence, the Panel did not find the product in breach of paragraph 3.1.
The Panel then considered whether the product had a particular appeal to under 18s. The producers argued that Bliss’s brand imagery and marketing activity avoided any suggestion of links with the teenage girls’ magazine of the same name and had been designed to appeal to the product’s target market of 18-35 year old women. They said buying patterns had confirmed that a wine-based mixed drink such as Bliss had a stronger appeal among older female drinkers in this age group. They also pointed out that they had sought pre-launch advice on the product from the Advisory Service which considered the naming and packaging to be acceptable under the Code.
The Panel noted that there was a magazine called Bliss whose readership comprised 13-18 year old girls. It also noted, however, that the typeface used for the brand name of the alcoholic drink was different to that of the magazine’s masthead. The Panel considered that the overall style of the packaging was sophisticated and intended to appeal to older women drinkers rather than create an association with the magazine or otherwise appeal to under 18s. The Panel therefore concluded that the product did not have a particular appeal to under 18s and hence did not find it in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(g).
Action by company
No action required.