‘Our first concern is that the name of the product links the product to sexual activity or seduction. ‘Bump ‘n’ Grind’ is a commonly known slang term for “a dance in which people move parts of their body, especially their hips, together in a sexually exciting way.” The name has also been used as the title of several songs and albums (the most well-known being by the R&B artist R. Kelly), the lyrics and videos for which are highly sexually suggestive. The promotion of this product on Facebook compounds this association with sexual activity as it refers to the context of a party, using terms such as ‘party time’ and ‘dancing our way through’.
We therefore believe that the name of this product and Facebook advert, specifically a sponsored post, identified on the 21st of February 2021 (where packaging is shown) is in breach of the following code:
3.2(d) – A drink, its packaging or promotion should not suggest any association with sexual activity or sexual success.
Our second concern pertains to the packaging design of the product and the potential appeal to those under the age of 18. We believe the colour scheme, font and teddy bear imagery of the product raise concerns. Specifically, the colours used on the packaging combined with the primary colours in the background of the ad, along with the bear icon give a very youthful feel and may appeal to those under the legal drinking age, specifically teenagers. We also consider that the above elements, alongside the package shape and size could cause confusion with soft drinks. We are aware that you have been found in breach of the Portman Group Code of Practice due to a similar combination on the packaging of another product (Cwtch). We therefore think that this product is in breach of the following code:
Rule 3.2(h) A drink, its packaging or promotion should not have a particular appeal to under-18s.’
Alcohol Focus Scotland
Under Code paragraph 3.2(d)
A drink, its packaging or promotion should not suggest any association with sexual activity or sexual success; Strong sexual images will breach the Code even if nothing directly suggests that the drink enhances the drinker’s sexual capabilities.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(h)
A drink, its packaging or promotion should not have a particular appeal to under-18s (in the case of sponsorship, those under 18 years of age should not comprise more than 25% of the participants, audience or spectators)
The company’s submission
The company said it took its responsibility as an alcohol drinks brand very seriously and never set out to cause offence to any consumer, trade association or charity with the naming, branding or marketing of its products.
The company said after carrying out its own due diligence it did not agree that the product breached Code rules 3.2(d) and 3.2(h). However, after considering the complainant’s concerns the company believed that the responsible thing to do was to discontinue the product with immediate effect.
The company said that it would continue to carry out its own internal due diligence and work with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service, when necessary, prior to launching any new products into the market.
The Panel’s assessment
Code paragraph 3.2(d)
The Panel noted the complainant’s concern about content on the company’s Facebook page but stated that this marketing fell outside the scope of the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks and fell within the remit of the Advertising Standards Authority instead. The Panel therefore considered the overall impression conveyed by the product packaging and the product name and whether the product implied any association with sexual activity or sexual success. The Panel discussed the name Bump ‘n’ Grind and noted that this could refer to a sexually suggestive style of dancing and also acknowledged that it was used as a slang term for sexual intercourse. The Panel noted that the can itself did not feature any other imagery or language that exacerbated the association with sexual activity and considered that it was the product name alone that raised concerns under Code paragraph 3.2(d).
After discussing various interpretations of the phrase “bump ‘n’ grind”, the Panel considered that the acceptability of the product name depended on broad understanding of the terminology. Regardless of context, the Panel agreed that the phrase had strong sexual connotations, whether it was taken to refer to dancing, to the associated R Kelly song or as a direct reference to sex, and the Panel believed that consumers would interpret the name as a sexual reference. The Panel discussed the wording of Code paragraph 3.2(d) and noted that the rule prohibited any association with sexual activity, whether it be direct or indirect. The Panel therefore concluded that the product name Bump ‘n’ Grind suggested a direct association with sexual activity and accordingly upheld the complaint under Code paragraph 3.2(d).
Code paragraph 3.2(h)
The Panel then discussed the product under Code paragraph 3.2(h). The Panel noted the complainant’s concerns that the colour scheme, font and teddy bear imagery, together with the size and shape of the can, created a particular appeal to under-18s.
The Panel considered that the fonts used on the can were not particularly childish. The Panel noted the Bump ‘n’ Grind product name was displayed in block capitals and considered that, although there was a ‘drip’ effect on some of the letters, the font did not resemble graffiti writing sometimes associated with youth culture.
The Panel disagreed with the complainant’s view that the can featured ‘primary colours’ and considered that the colour scheme was more pastel in tone. The Panel noted it had previously upheld complaints about products with bright, high-contrast colours, and had stated that those colour schemes could have a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel acknowledged that pastel colour schemes were also commonly used for products targeted at young girls but considered that, on this product, the pastel colours formed abstract imagery with geometric shapes and dabs of paint, rather than images that were likely to have a particular appeal to children, and were relatively recessive within the overall design. The Panel considered that the colour scheme did not, in this context, create a particular appeal to under-18s.
The Panel considered whether there were other elements of the design that had a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel noted that the can included references to fruit flavours, including the product description on the front of the can ‘Mango and Ginger L’il Pale India Lager’, text on the back of the can that stated ‘Loaded with mango and a hint of ginger’ and a text box on the back of the can that stated ‘TASTE: TROPICAL / LEMON’. The Panel noted, however, that the can did not include fruit imagery or other brand messaging associated with soft drinks. The Panel considered that the references to fruit flavours, in this context, were acceptable descriptions of the taste of the product and were unlikely to create confusion with soft drinks appealing to under-18s.
The Panel also noted the complainant’s concern that the 330ml can size might contribute to an appeal to under-18s. The Panel considered that alcohol products in 330ml cans often had to work harder to avoid confusion with soft drinks, as it had stated in several previous decisions. The Panel emphasised that it considered every product on its own merits and noted that 330ml cans were not inherently problematic under the Code. In the absence of other elements which may have suggested that Bump ‘n’ Grind was a soft drink suitable for under-18s, the Panel considered that the 330ml can size did not contribute, in this case, to a particular appeal to under-18s.
Finally, the Panel noted that the can featured the company’s corporate logo, a drawing of a stuffed bear, next to the product description on the front of the can. The Panel considered the two previous precedents where it had had discussed the bear logo as part of a complaint consideration: namely the Cwtch (2017) and Cwtch (2019) decisions. The Panel noted that on both occasions Cwtch was found to be in breach of the Code and that the bear logo had been a contributary factor in creating a particular appeal to under-18s when considered alongside the design of a bubble font and bright primary colours.
The Panel acknowledged that the bear was the producer’s corporate logo and considered that it did not necessarily breach the Code, in itself, but that it had the potential to appeal to under-18s depending on its size, presentation and contextual appearance. The Panel stated that, as always, it was imperative to consider the overall impression of the product and that the impact of the bear logo depended on its size and context, including the presence of other design elements that may have a particular appeal to under-18s and/or a design that focused attention on the bear.
The Panel carefully considered whether the bear logo was an element creating particular appeal to under-18s in the context of the Bump ‘n’ Grind can. The Panel considered that the bear, in this particular context, was not so prominent in the overall design that it was likely to create an overall impression which would have a particular appeal to under-18s and also noted that there were no other elements on the can which it believed created a particular appeal to under-18s.
After considering the imagery, colours, font, 330ml can size and fruit references in combination with the bear logo, the Panel considered that the overall impression conveyed by the product did not have particular appeal to under-18s and accordingly did not uphold the complaint under Code rule 3.2(h).
Action by Company: