A complaint against premium spirits brand Jatt Life has been upheld by the alcohol industry’s Independent Complaints Panel after it sponsored the luxury driving event The Cannon Run.

Jatt Life’s sponsorship of The Cannon Run, was considered to breach six Code rules. These included linking alcohol consumption with social success and enhancement of athletic performance, as well as using under-25s in promotional activity.

The Panel noted videos of The Cannon Run were present on the company’s social media channels and that there was no evidence of promotion of responsible drinking during the event, or appropriate due diligence to ensure responsible and age-appropriate drinking. The Panel found this particularly concerning for a sponsorship that was linked to driving.

As detailed in the full decision here, the Panel upheld the complaint under six Sponsorship Code rules namely:

  • Sponsorship must promote responsible drinking – 3.1;
  • There must be no implication that bravado, aggressive, violent, dangerous or anti-social behaviour is advocated or condoned by a drinks company or brand – 3.7;
  • The sponsorship must not encourage irresponsible or immoderate drinking – 3.9;
  • Sampling must comply with current licensing legislation – 3.10;
  • No use of images of people who are or look under-25– 3.12;
  • No implication alcohol enhances sporting or social success – 3.13.

The Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, Nicola Williams, said: “Alcohol producers must take care when conducting sponsorships, and in this case it was clear from the promotional material that the sponsorship activity contravened the Sponsorship Code on several counts.”

Jatt Life was also considered under the Naming, Packaging and Promotion Code, however the complaint was not upheld. The full decision is here.

Merchandise for under-18s with Jatt Life branding were reviewed, but the Panel considered the items were designed to appeal to an adult purchaser so the complaint was not upheld. Although there was not a breach of the Code, the Portman Group will publicly review the wording of Code rule 3.2(h) to ensure no alcohol-branded merchandising can be placed on any product designed for under-18’s.

The complainant was also concerned the ‘Jatt’ referenced caste in the Sikh religion and that the branding could be disrespectful. The Panel sought advice from a series of authorities in the Sikh community, but no evidence could be found of serious offence to the Sikh community or to the average consumer.

Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group, the alcohol responsibility body and regulator said: “We are committed to ensuring that people can enjoy alcohol responsibly, and we take our role in reducing harmful drinking seriously. As an integral part of alcohol sponsorship agreements drinks companies must ensure there is a recognisable commitment to promoting responsible drinking and the Code rules are rigorously applied.  This sponsorship of The Cannon Run was both at odds with the spirit of the Code of Practice and in breach of the rules designed to protect consumers. It is important that the Code remains flexible to change and we will be updating the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks Code to ensure that the appropriate rules apply across the board.”