Company: Blue Sky Beverage Co Ltd (exclusively for ASDA Stores Ltd)
Final Decision: 26 May 2006
Considered under the 3rd Edition of the Code.
“My daughter (9 years old) was given a pack with a teddy and a small bottle of Cavalier that was purchased by a friend from Asda. When I explained that the drink was alcohol and she couldn’t have it she was obviously disappointed but what really concerns me is that Asda are selling a teddy bear which obviously appeals to kids with alcohol.”
Member of the public, Surrey.
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 noted that the gift pack had been produced by Blue Sky Beverage Company Ltd for ASDA Stores Ltd who had exclusive rights to the pack and who had submitted a response to the complaint on behalf of both companies. ASDA explained that the gift pack was sold only within the beers, wines and spirits department of their stores and that when it was scanned at the checkout, operators were prompted to ask for proof of age if the customer appeared to be under 21. They argued that gift packs including alcohol were very common in the UK and that teddy bears were particularly popular for adult gifts of this nature normally associated with special occasions; they provided a number of examples of similar gift packs featuring teddy bears that had been sold by other retailers. They were surprised that the gift pack had been given to a child after purchase by an adult and felt that it was obvious that alcoholic products were not suitable for young children. They said that they would add an 18+ warning sticker to the front of the pack to avoid any problems in future.
The Panel acknowledged that neither company had deliberately set out to target under 18s and noted that ASDA took precautions in-store to try and ensure that the gift pack could not be purchased by this age group. The Panel also noted that teddy bears were commonly used in gift packs of this nature which were very popular, especially on special occasions such as Valentine’s Day. It considered, however, that although teddy bears appealed to many adults, they also had a particular appeal to under 18s, especially the very young and teenage girls. The Panel therefore concluded that because of the inclusion of the teddy bear, the gift pack had a particular appeal to under 18s in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(g). The Panel asked the companies to liaise with the Code Advisory Service for guidance on future gift packs.
Action by company
ASDA said that, whilst they had received no complaints from customers, they noted the Independent Complaints Panel’s decision and the product would be removed promptly from sale in all ASDA stores.