A complaint by the Northern Ireland Alcohol and Drugs Alliance (NIADA) was not upheld against 10 Dragon Soop products including: Dragon Soop Dark Fruit Punch, Dragon Soop Blue Raspberry, Dragon Soop Mango Pink Lemonade, Dragon Soop Passion Fruit & Orange, Dragon Soop Peach & Raspberry, Dragon Soop Red Kola, Dragon Soop Rhubarb & Custard, Dragon Soop Sour Apple, Dragon Soop Tropical Fruit Punch and Dragon Soop Apple & Blackcurrant.
NIADA also complained about Dragon Soop Wicked Watermelon, as well as a member of the public, who raised a concern around reports of the product being mistaken for an energy drink.
NIADA raised concerns about the aforementioned products citing the following Code rules:
- The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated with absolute clarity – 3.1;
- There must be no undue emphasis on the drink’s higher alcoholic strength, or intoxicating effect – 3.2(a);
- A drink should not suggest any association with bravado, violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behaviour – 3.2(b);
- A drink should not encourage irresponsible or immoderate consumption – 3.2(f);
- Should not have a particular appeal to under-18s – 3.2(h);
- And a drink must not suggest any link with therapeutic qualities, mood altering or enhanced mental or physical capabilities – 3.2(j).
The Panel considered each of the rules in relation to the products. In terms of the rules, they noted:
- Every product repeated the 7.5% alcoholic strength by volume on its front, base and back, and all the products had a drink responsibly message and a link to the Drinkaware website (3.1 – nature of alcoholic drink)
- The communication of the products’ alcoholic strength had been conveyed in a factual and proportionate way and there was nothing on the cans that placed undue emphasis on the products’ higher alcoholic strength or intoxicating effect(3.2(a) – emphasis of higher alcoholic strength).
- The use of a dragon on all product artwork, along with the claw marks did not look aggressive and did not create an association with aggressive behaviour (3.2(b) – aggressive behaviour)
- There was nothing on any of the products that encouraged consumers to drink irresponsibly or immoderately (3.2 (f) – encouragement of immoderate, irresponsible, illegal consumption).
- None of the illustrations on the products were childlike and would be unlikely to have a particular appeal to under-18s. For Dragon Soop Wicked Watermelon it was also noted that the news article referenced by the member of the public involved a 22-year-old man, as opposed to an individual under-18, whose lunchbox had been packed by his mother and that she had packed a can of Dragon Soop Wicked Watermelon in it. The Panel noted that while the product may have a broad appeal, it did not have a particular appeal to under-18s. (3.2(h) – particular appeal to under-18s).
- The caffeine content of the products was clearly stated and there was no indication the products were linked to potential therapeutic qualities, mood or behaviour changing capabilities or benefits (3.2(j) – link with therapeutic qualities).
For all these reasons, and as fully detailed in the decisions, the Panel concluded that Dragon Soop Dark Fruit Punch, Dragon Soop Blue Raspberry, Dragon Soop Mango Pink Lemonade, Dragon Soop Passion Fruit & Orange, Dragon Soop Peach & Raspberry, Dragon Soop Red Kola, Dragon Soop Rhubarb & Custard, Dragon Soop Sour Apple, Dragon Soop Tropical Fruit Punch, Dragon Soop Apple & Blackcurrant and Dragon Soop Wicked Watermelon did not breach the Code rules in question or any other part of the Code.
Commenting on the decision, the Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, Nicola Williams, said: “When alcohol is combined with supplements such as caffeine it is incumbent on producers to ensure that consumers understand what they are drinking and there isn’t a suggestion that these additions are enhancements. It is important that references on packaging are factual and the Panel were satisfied that these Dragon Soop products adhered to the Code.”
To help producers of caffeinated alcohol beverages ensure their marketing is on the right side of the Code, the Advisory Service has pulled together its top tips in its latest blog here.