Complaint against Hammerton Brewery’s Buoyancy Aid not upheld

A recent complaint about Hammerton Brewery’s collaboration with Brew by Numbers, Buoyancy Aid was not upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel. A copy of the full decision is available here.

The complainant, a member of the public, complained about the product on the grounds that, they felt, it had appeal to under-18s, due to the use of cartoon imagery and that the product’s name and use of ocean-related imagery may create a false link between alcohol consumption and enhanced ability to swim.

Members of the public are free to submit complaints regarding the naming, packaging and promotion of any alcoholic drinks to the Portman Group, these complaints will then be reviewed by the Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) under the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks.

The Panel chose to consider whether the product the alcoholic nature was communicated with clarity (Rule 3.1) as the busy packaging and descriptor ‘Soursop and Guava Gose 4.2%’ raised concerns. However, they concluded that the line ‘brewed to our resolution’ on the front of the can and the back of can information meant the alcoholic nature was clear.

The Panel then reviewed the product under Rule 3.2(b), suggestion of association with bravado, violence or illegal behaviour, and concluded that the packaging suggested no connection with drinking and enhanced ability, or encouragement to, swim. Similarly, when looking at Rule 3.2(j), suggestion of therapeutic qualities or enhancement of mental or physical capabilities, the panel deduced that the overall impression of the product would not change a consumer’s mood or behaviour.

Finally, the product was looked at in conjunction with Rule 3.2(h), appeal to under 18s, and noted that the cartoon imagery was not childlike and this, coupled with the can’s 440ml size, which is often associated with alcohol, meant the product was not in breach of this rule.

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

“After considering both the complainant’s perspective, as well as the company’s subsequent submission, the Panel decided that Buoyancy Aid was not in breach of the Code. While the Panel felt there were a number of elements to take into consideration, when looking at the product as a whole the Panel determined it was not in breach of the Code.”