Complaints about Cronk Y Voddy’s sponsorship of TT race rider Andrew Dudgeon and the labelling of the product have been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel) under the Codes of Practice on alcohol sponsorship and marketing. The final decisions can be read here and here.

The complainant, Kella Distillers, raised concerns that the sponsorship of a participant of the Isle of Man TT Race, which it said was known as one of the most dangerous road circuits in the world, implied that the brand advocated or condoned violent or dangerous behaviour. The same complainant believed that references on the labelling of the vodka to the races encouraged dangerous behaviour.

While the Panel concluded that the producer’s decision to sponsor the TT Races was not in itself problematic under the Code, the Panel raised concerns around the language used on the company’s website. An example of this was the phrase “that’s what we’re trying to encapsulate with this spirit. Open air, speed, danger, and sheer enjoyment.” The Panel concluded that the language implied that the producer condoned dangerous behaviour and accordingly upheld the complaint under the Alcohol Sponsorship Code rule 3.7.

The Panel confirmed that the association between an alcoholic drink and a driving event was not automatically problematic; it very much depended on how the association with driving was depicted. The Panel considered the imagery on the label, which depicted an image of a high speed road sign with the phrase ‘the SPIRIT OF THE RACES, designed to red-line your taste buds”. In the Panel’s view, the imagery alluded to driving at a dangerously high speed, and created a direct association with drink-driving and dangerous behaviour. Accordingly, the Panel upheld the complaint under Code rule 3.2(b) in the Code of Practice for alcohol marketing.

The Panel welcomed the agreement by Cronk Y Voddy’s producer, Seven Kingdom Distillery, to amend its website text and to place more emphasis on promoting responsible drinking behaviour.

Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, John Timothy said:

“While producers can sponsor and create associations with driving events either on their labelling or websites, they have to be incredibly careful that there is no suggestion that the product encourages dangerous or reckless behaviour. Our Advisory Service is always open to producers of any size to advise them how to market and sponsor responsibly.”