Final Decision: 8 April 2014
Considered under the 4th Edition of the Code.
The following text is in potential breach of the spirit of the Code for associations with bravado and immoderate consumption and for placing undue emphasis on strength/intoxicating effect:
‘Fuel up and hold tight, this thorough bred kicks like a mule’
‘Rip it up down empty streets’
‘Drink fast, live fast’
‘Some people say slow is good. We believe faster is better’ and
‘This pale ale is chopped, turned and ready to roll’
The Portman Group (acting in lieu of complainant as part of the 2012 Code Compliance Audit)
Under Code paragraph 3.2(a)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way have the alcoholic strength, relatively high alcohol content, or the intoxicating effect, as a dominant theme.
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(f)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way encourage illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as drink-driving, binge-drinking or drunkenness.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(g)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way urge the consumer to drink rapidly or to “down” a product in one.
The company’s submission
The company did not respond to the complaint.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel reviewed the overall impression conveyed by the product as a whole, taking into account the text on the back label and the strength of the beer (Alc 3.8% Vol).
The Panel noted that the back label included the statement ‘this thorough bred kicks like a mule’ but felt that given the relatively low strength of the beer there was no undue emphasis placed on the strength and/or intoxicating effect of the alcohol.
The Panel also considered the line ‘rip it up down empty streets’ and noted that while the beer was of a lower-than-average strength and one bottle was well within the recommended daily unit guidelines for a man and woman, the phrase still encouraged anti-social behaviour. Accordingly, the Panel found the product to be in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(b).
The Panel then deliberated whether any aspect of the product encouraged immoderate consumption and concluded in this instance that it did not breach Code paragraph 3.2(f). However, the Panel expressed concern regarding the phrases ‘drink fast, live fast’ and ‘we believe faster is better’ and felt that both phrases urged the consumer to drink rapidly and subsequently found the product to be in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(g).
Action by company
The company decided not to work with the Portman Group advisory service to amend their product in line with the Panel’s ruling. Therefore, the Retailer Alert Bulletin below was issued.