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A recent complaint about Oakham Ale’s Thrillseeker was upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel. A copy of the full decision is available here.

The complainant, a member of the public, expressed concern that the product could appeal to under 18s given the brightly coloured spacemen on the can. The complainant also was concerned that the alcoholic nature of the product was not clearly communicated.

Reviewing the product in detail, the Panel noted:

  • The drawings of spacemen on the product were more adult in nature due to the graphic novel style of the design, so unlikely to particularly appeal to under-18s.
  • It was not clear that the product was alcoholic due to the busy label together with the type of illustrations and colours on the can.
  • It was inappropriate to have an alcoholic drink associated with ‘thrill seeking’ as this could be linked to excessive consumption and risky or dangerous behaviour.

In conclusion, the Panel decided that whilst the product did not have particular appeal to under-18s, it was not clear that the product was alcoholic and the name linked it to ‘bravado’. For this reason, the complaint was upheld under the following Code rules:

  • 1. The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity
  • 2 (b) A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behaviour

But it was not upheld under Code rule:

  • 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.

Commenting on the decision by the Independent Complaints Panel, a Portman Group spokesperson said, “This decision by the Panel emphasises how important it is for producers to look at our Code of Practice in the early stages of their branding process and to get in touch with our advisory service with any queries to avoid problems further down the line.”

ENDS

For more information please contact: Nicola Bates and 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 fifth edition of the Code of Practice. Complaints received after 23rd September 2019 will be subject to the rules in the sixth edition.
  4. The Panel, which hears complaints, is chaired by Jenny Watson CBE. The other members of the Panel are: David Macdonald, Angela McNab, Rosalie Weetman, Jon Collins, Graeme Mckenzie, Claire Fowler, Daniel Jourdan and Rachel Childs. More information on the Panel can be found
  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 is funded by its eight member companies: Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands UK; Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I; Carlsberg UK; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Mast-Jägermeister UK; Molson Coors Brewing Company UK; Pernod Ricard UK.
  8. An image of Thrillseeker is available on request.