Company: Intercontinental Brands Ltd
Final Decision: 1 June 2017
Considered under 5th Edition of the Code.
Member of the public
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(h)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not have a particular appeal to under-18s.
The company’s submission
The company stated that Cactus Jack’s had been on the market since 2014 without any issues.
In response to the complainant’s claim that the products did not clearly communicate the alcoholic nature of the alcohol content the producer asserted that there were several cues on the front and back label of the product that clearly indicated the product was alcohol:
- the word ‘schnapps’ appeared twice on the front label, once directly below the ‘Cactus Jack’s’ main brand name, in 7mm font, and in the same font colour as the brand name. In the producer’s view schnapps was a widely recognised and accepted term for an alcoholic product and had never been used to describe a non-alcoholic product;
- the alcohol strength statement “15% vol” appeared on the front label
- the descriptor ‘a classic blend of fermented distilled alcohol’ also appeared on the main body of the front label;
- the back label also repeated much of the information that was on the front label and, furthermore, included health labelling information.
Turning to the second point of the complaint, that the products had a particular appeal to under-18s, the producer said ICB was not alone in producing alcoholic drinks with confectionery flavour names, and presented a list of competitor products. The producer felt the key question was whether the products had a particular appeal to under-18s and in the producer’s opinion they did not. It went on to say that the flavour names were associated with confectionery dating back to the 1920s, and were popular up until early 1990s.
The flavours were considered to be nostalgic, from a bygone age, and were therefore considered to be retro in nature. In designing and branding its products the producer had deliberately reflected the late 1980s packaging of the confectionary products, because they were deemed to be “classics” rather than being particularly appealing to a modern under-18 consumer.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel first commented on the location of the product within the retail outlet because the complainant had made a point of saying the product was originally displayed away from the alcohol section. The Panel noted that the location of alcohol within a retail outlet was outside the producer’s control and was the retailer’s responsibility and therefore not subject to the Code.
The Panel noted that the front label of the products featured the word ‘schnapps’, the alcohol strength statement and product descriptor. The Panel considered whether schnapps was a widely recognised alcohol descriptor and concluded that it was. The Panel also noted that ‘schnapps’ was in relatively large font and featured directly beneath the brand name. In light of these indicators, the Panel concluded that the alcoholic nature of the products was communicated with absolute clarity, and accordingly the complaint under Code rule 3.1 was not upheld.
The Panel then went on to consider whether the products had a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel discussed whether the drink flavours, Black Jacks and Fruit Salad, appealed to children. The Panel noted the producer had deliberately used confectionery names, and not flavours, to describe its products. In the Panel’s view, if the producer had wanted to describe the flavour it would have used liquorice to describe the Black Jack’s variant, but it had chosen not to, and furthermore Fruit Salad was not a flavour, but a sweet. The producer had also deliberately reflected the confectionery colours in the colour of the product, i.e. using a black liquid for Black Jack’s, and a pink liquid to reflect the Fruit Salad variant.
The Panel noted however that the confectionery flavours were retro and were likely to resonate with older consumers, who were most likely to be in their late 20s or 30s. The Panel considered that whilst the confectionery names might have some appeal to under-18s, they did not think that this was strong enough to constitute particular appeal.
The Panel also noted that while the Fruit Salad variant was pink, that alone was not enough to make it particularly appealing to under-18s and the Panel had to consider the product, its naming and its packaging, as whole. Accordingly the Panel found that the products did not have a particular appeal to under-18s and did not find a breach of Code rule 3.2(h), or any other aspect of the Code.
Action by the Company
No further action required.