Company: Seven Kingdom Distillery
Final Decision: 17 October 2018
Considered under 5th Edition of the Code.
Kella Distillers Limited
‘My complaint is that the labelling of the product breaches your guidelines, namely 3.2 (b) as it promotes a dangerous behavior (sic), namely riding at speed in the Isle of Man TT Races, known to be the most dangerous race circuit in the world (https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/the-filter/10713841/Isle-of-Man-TT-the-most-dangerous-thing-you-can-do-on-two-wheels.html)
The term “Red lining” refers to revving the engine into the top most range the engine is rated for, which when combined with the correct gear box setting, results in achieving the top speed.
By, inter alia: (Capitalisation is theirs)
1. The use of the term “The Spirit of the Races” below the official TT Isle of Man Logo, which is licenced to them by the Isle of Man Department for Enterprise
2. The image of a stylised Viking, they call him Leif, with goggles, a motorcycle helmet design with four horns protruding and a grimace/bared teeth.
1. The wording “ Cronk y Voddy Vodka. The SPIRIT OF THE RACES, designed to red-line your taste buds. This vodka is produced using the FINEST SPIRIT made in our analogue still in the heart of Douglas, the HOME OF REAL ROAD RACING. ARTISAN, SMOOTH and SERIOUSLY MANX, this is the essence of the TT in a bottle!”
2. The wording in a road sign motif “WELCOME TO CRONK Y VODDY PLEASE DRINK WITH CARE”
3. The image of a motorcycle dashboard showing the rev counter around 9,000 RPM.
4. The image of a road way stretching ahead with road signs either side
On the front label there appears to be an image/design of a sword within the letter Y of “Cronk Y Voddy”. Perhaps the producer could confirm whether this represents the “sword of Damocles” referred to in their website:
“Leif, as all riders, rides with the sword of Damocles hanging over his head.” http://cronkyvoddy.com/ accessed 23/05/2018
I found this definition: “sword of Damocles, any situation threatening imminent harm or disaster.” http://www.dictionary.com/browse/damocles.’
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
The company’s submission
The company responded to the complainant’s view that the TT race circuit is the most dangerous in the world, by explaining the continual upgrading of the circuit’s safety measures. Furthermore, the producer noted that the article referred to in the complaint was anecdotal and not research based. The company stated that they had licensed the TT logo from the Department of Enterprise and that the product design for Cronk Y Voddy was found to be acceptable by MHK, the organisation responsible for licencing the logo.
In response to the complainants view of the front label, the company explained the use of ‘Spirit of the Races’ was used as a replacement for ‘Spirit of the TT’ because the terms of the license did not permit the use of the latter term. The company noted that the image of a Viking was a holistic symbol of ‘Manxness’, as were the four horns used on the helmet, as it references a Manx breed of sheep and was designed to appeal to the Isle of Man demographic. The company asserted that when the sword was originally designed it was not intended to be the sword of Damocles. However, as the branding developed the association with Damocles also evolved, and its poignancy to the TT races.
In response to the complainant’s view regarding the back label, the company asserted that the design captured the designer’s enthusiasm for motorbikes and was designed to appeal to other enthusiasts. The company affirmed that the RPM used on the motorbike’s dashboard was included as it is specific to a bike used in the TT races and mimic’s the speed racers can reach. The phrase ‘red lining the taste buds’ was an analogy with no intended association with bravado or dangerous behaviour. The company stated the use of the road sign was tweaked to be a humorous reinforcement of the company’s belief that all spirits should be enjoyed in moderation, for their flavour. The image of the road was used as it is the Cronk Y Voddy Straight, representing the product’s namesake.
As part of the company’s response to the provisional decision, the company addressed the Panel’s finding that the back label of the product created a clear association with drink driving. The company asserted that the highlighted problematic areas, including the drivers eye view, the bike and the view of the road were used to directly link the drink to the TT race circuit and not to allude to drink driving. Furthermore, the company maintained that the use of the bike was a reference to 1970’s and 80’s when they race was in it’s heyday to appeal to bike enthusiast, its target demographic; which the company maintained would not consider drinking and driving. The company also addressed the line ‘red line your taste buds’ and refuted the Panel’s finding that this could encourage drink driving or dangerous driving and explained this was a throwaway line, to allude to the taste of the product.
The company summarised that the back label referenced the TT races as did the product in its entirety; and was designed to appeal to TT race- enthusiasts. The company asserted that they did not condone drink-driving or dangerous behaviour and were agreeable to increasing their anti-drink-driving message online.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel began by discussing the The Isle of Man TT Races and noted that the association between an alcoholic drink and a driving event was not automatically problematic under the Code. The Panel went on to acknowledge that the TT logo appeared on the front label of the product. Whilst this created an association with the TT races, it did not necessarily create any association with dangerous behaviour. The Panel also considered the Viking image, also appearing on the front of the packaging, and did not find it to either directly or indirectly create any association with violence. Viewed in its entirety the Panel did not find the front label to be problematic.
The Panel then considered the back label, which featured a driver’s-eye view of the Cronk Y Voddy straight road, a visible RPM dial registering a high speed a road sign which read ‘Welcome to Cronk Y Voddy, please drink with care’ and, further text which read ‘the SPIRIT OF THE RACES, designed to red-line your taste buds’. The Panel considered that the direct references to driving, and in some instances drink-driving were clearly present. Furthermore, the reference to ‘red-lining’ alluded to driving at a dangerously high speed. This association was compounded by the fact that the image was a driver’s eye view of the road.
The Panel considered the overall impression conveyed by the back label, when taking into account all the elements above, was to create a direct association with drink-driving and dangerous behaviour. Accordingly, the Panel upheld the complaint under 3.2(b).
The Panel considered the company’s response to the provisional decision and discussed the back label of the product. The Panel considered that although unintentional, the link between the product and driving was present; with the driver’s eye view of the road signalling a clear marker between consumption of the product and driving.
The Panel noted that the line ‘redline your taste buds’ was intended to reference the quality and taste of the product but concluded this was unclear and could be considered as promotion of dangerous behaviour. The Panel noted that the producer had not provided any further explanation to the inclusion of this line.
The Panel concluded that the overall impression given by the back label, considering the view of the road, the inclusion of a driver’s eye view from a bike and the accompanying text of ‘redline’ all gave the impression of encouraging dangerous behaviour and accordingly upheld the product in breach of Code rule 3.2(b).
Action by the Company
To be confirmed.