A complaint against Wolfie’s Whisky has not been upheld by the alcohol industry’s Independent Complaint Panel (ICP). The full decision can be read here.

The complaint, received from a member of the public, raised concerns that the packaging contained a cartoon like character which could have particular appeal to children under Code rule 3.2(h) and that text on the packaging could encourage bravado under Code rule 3.2(b) and irresponsible consumption under Code rule 3.2(f). The complaint was considered under the three Code rules and not upheld by the Panel.

The Panel discussed the term ‘rascal’ which appeared on the packaging with the phrase “Rascal of a thing” and noted that it was typically a light-hearted term used to refer to cheekiness, as opposed to being synonymous with illegal behaviour or criminal activity.

The Panel further considered the line in the context of the rest of the packaging, which included a prominent illustration of a cartoon wolf smiling and winking. The Panel noted that the wolf was presented in a friendly albeit cheeky way, and this contributed to the impression that ‘rascal’ was intended to refer to mischievous characteristics, rather than creating an association with bravado. The Panel did not uphold the complaint under Code rule 3.2(b).

The Panel considered that as the packaging did not create an association with bravado, there was nothing in that regard which encouraged irresponsible consumption. When assessing the rest of the packaging, the Panel noted that the drink was a collaboration with Rod Stewart but stated that a connection to a rock star was not enough to encourage consumers to drink irresponsibly. Accordingly, the complaint was not upheld under Code rule 3.2(f).

The Panel then considered whether the packaging of Wolfie’s Whisky had a particular appeal to under-18s as raised by the complainant.  The Panel noted that the wolf was depicted in a smiling friendly way and that the illustration was reminiscent of pre-1970s cartoons. The wolf also had a top hat on which included a playing card, which could be understood as a reference to adult card games or rock and roll culture, creating further separation from contemporary children’s cartoons.

The rest of the bottle was typical of spirits packaging and there were no other elements on the front or back which were likely to have a particular appeal to under-18s. Therefore, the Panel did not uphold the complaint under Code rule 3.2(h).

Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, Rachel Childs said: “It’s vitally important under the Code that producers ensure their products do not have particular appeal to under-18s, or encourage bravado or irresponsible consumption. In this case, the Panel concluded the cartoon wolf was presented in a way which created separation from contemporary children’s cartoons and, combined with other elements on the packaging which were typical of spirit products, did not have particular appeal to under-18s.”

Co-founder of Wolfie’s Whisky, Duncan Frew said: “We’ve taken great care while building every element of the Wolfie’s Whisky brand over the last two years. Having worked closely with the Portman Group to ensure our marketing and branding is on the right side of the Group’s guidelines, we are pleased with the outcome of this situation.”