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In one of the first complaints under the Portman Group’s new Code of Practice, Fourpure Brewing Company’s product Juicebox was upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel. A copy of the full decision is available here.

Each time a new Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks is introduced, the Portman Group commissions an independent audit of the market to measure compliance. In 2019, the Portman Group introduced the sixth edition of the Code of Practice and commissioned Zenith Global to carry out an audit of 500 products which were randomly selected from the market. Juicebox was considered to be problematic so it was brought to the Panel to assess. The full audit report is due to be published in Spring 2020.

During the audit, Zenith Global expressed concern that the imagery and name on the product did not provide absolute clarity that it was alcoholic. They raised concern that the product could have a particular appeal to under-18s due to the image of “heaps of oranges” which they felt made an association with orange juice – further strengthened by the brand name “Juicebox” – and could be easily interpreted by children as an orange juice or fizzy drink. They also noted that the can size could further mislead a younger audience into thinking it was a fizzy drink.

The Panel believed the product clearly conveyed to the average consumer that the product was alcoholic but were concerned that it could have particular appeal to under-18s.

For this reason, the complaint was not upheld under Code paragraph:

  • 3.1: The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity

and upheld under Code paragraph:

  • 3.2(h): 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.

Reviewing the product in detail, the Panel noted:

The combination of ‘Juicebox’ together with the images of fruit and stylised sunshine imagery had a particular appeal to children.

The Panel was concerned that children might see the product and think it was a juice drink and considered that the ‘Citrus IPA’ description was not clear enough to dispel that impression to a child who would be unfamiliar with beer categories.

Commenting on the decision the Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, Jenny Watson, said:

“The Panel believed that the stylised image of a heap of oranges, including one depicted as a sun, alongside the name ‘Juicebox’ which could be easily associated with a children’s drink meant that this product had a particular appeal to under-18s. It once again highlights how important it is for producers to consult the Code of Practice and the Portman Group’s advisory service before launching a product to avoid problems before they arise.”

ENDS

For more information please contact:

Nicola Bates or Anna Liveing

0207 290 1463 or 07719 324021 or comms@portmangroup.org.uk

Notes to editors:

  1. The full decision from the Independent Complaints Panel is available on the Portman Group’s website.
  2. The Portman Group’s Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks applies to all pre-packaged alcoholic drinks and the promotional activities of all drinks producers. A copy of the Code may be downloaded here.
  3. This complaint was considered under the sixth edition of the Code of Practice.
  4. The Independent Complaints Panel is headed by Jenny Watson CBE a former Chair of the Electoral Commission and Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission. The Panel is drawn from a range of civic society who has worked in education, youth work, charity, criminal justice, health, marketing, hospitality and the alcohol industry. It is this mix of views and experiences which provides them with the authority to jointly provide a considered view on complaints based on the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks. The members of the panel can be found here.
  5. Since the Code was introduced in 1996, the packaging and/or marketing of over 150 drinks have been found to breach the Code. In the case of a Code breach concerning a drink’s packaging or point-of-sale material, a timetable for implementing the necessary changes – not normally exceeding three months – will be supplied in writing to the company concerned. Retailers may be notified of the decision taken by the Independent Complaints Panel and requested not to replenish stocks or point-of-sale material of any product found in breach of the Code, after the date specified by the Code Secretariat.
  6. The Portman Group provides a free and confidential Advisory Service for alcohol producers to check products prior to launch and seek advice on responsible alcohol marketing. Over 2000 separate advice requests have been answered since 2010. Email: advice@portmangroup.org.uk.
  7. The Portman Group is the alcohol industry regulator. It has over 130 code signatories from producers, retailers and membership bodies. The Portman Group is funded by eight member companies: Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands UK; Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I; Carlsberg UK; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Mast-Jäegermeister UK; Molson Coors Brewing Company UK; Pernod Ricard UK.
  8. A high-resolution image of Juicebox is available on request.