Company: Healey’s Cornish Cyder Farm
Final Decision: 10 December 2009
Considered under the 4th Edition of the Code.
“I wish to complain about the use of a cartoon character on the bottles and bar promotional material for Cornish Rattler Cider… The bottles and brand identity feature a cartoon snake character in dark glasses displaying a look of bravado, and which I believe has a particular appeal to under 18s. The character is especially similar to the cartoon characters ‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles’ which is popular among pre-teen children…. You can see more images at the official website: http://www.cornishrattler.co.uk”
Member of the public.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(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 or anti-social behaviour.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(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.
The company’s submission
The company explained that the Rattler was a Cornish variety of cider apple and they adopted this name to reference their Cornish heritage and identity. They subsequently decided to play on this brand name and make their brand more memorable through use of a snake image. They said they deliberately avoided a lifelike snake image in case its venomous connotations led to the wrong image they wanted for their brand. Instead, they opted for a fictional, friendly image and gave it sunglasses and a beach background to reinforce the association with Cornwall.
The company argued that snakes generally did not have associations with bravado and that the image on their product certainly did not carry this association.
The company maintained that Cornish Rattler Cyder was a premium product marketed to over-18s only. They denied that the snake image would have particular appeal to under-18s and pointed out a number of stylistic differences between their snake character and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel concurred that snakes generally did not have associations with bravado and that the image on the product did not carry this association, and accordingly did not find the product’s packaging in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(b).
The Panel, while acknowledging the stylistic differences between the company’s snake character and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, nonetheless considered that the prominence and nature of the snake image caused the packaging to have a particular appeal to under-18s. Accordingly, it found the product’s packaging in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(h).
Action by company
The company agreed to amend the packaging in consultation with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service.