A complaint about BrewDog’s special edition Pink IPA has been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel). A full copy of the decision can be read here.

Two complainants, both members of the public, believed that use of the phrase ‘Beer for Girls’ on the special edition version of BrewDog’s Punk IPA could appeal to under 18’s in breach of Code Rule 3.2(h).

The Panel acknowledged that Pink IPA was designed to generate discussion around the gender pay gap to tie in with International Women’s Day and recognised that the product was intended to be ironic. However, the Panel noted that the dictionary definition of the term ‘girl’ is ‘a female child.’ While the Panel understood that BrewDog had intended the term to be used ironically, they believed that this was open to misinterpretation – as suggested by the company’s need to post a subsequent blog about the product and to clarify the meaning of the campaign.

The Panel noted that the primary definition of ‘girls’ and likewise ‘boys’ related to children and expressed concern about the use of either term on an alcoholic drink. They were mindful that decisions should leave a narrow margin when it comes to terms to describe children. In this case the Panel ruled that the phrase ‘beer for girls’ created, however unintentionally, a link between beer and children. Accordingly, the Panel upheld the product under Code rule 3.2(h).

Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, John Timothy said: “The ruling by the Panel sets an important precedent around the use of the terms ‘girl’ and ‘boy’ on alcohol labels. While we recognise the distinct purpose of the campaign by BrewDog was to draw attention to an important social issue, producers still need to make sure that there is no way that their products could be misinterpreted as appealing to children. If in doubt we can offer free advice and guidance to prevent issues arising before products reach the shelf.”