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Company: Diageo Great Britain Limited
Breach: No
Final Decision: 19 March 2015

Considered under the 4th Edition of the Code.

Complaint summary

The use of the baubles leads the promotion to have a particular appeal to under-18s.

Complainant

The Portman Group (acting in lieu of a non-governmental organisation)

Decision

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.

NOT UPHELD

The company’s submission

The company began by asserting that it takes its regulatory obligations extremely seriously and considered the Bauble Cocktail to be compliant with the Portman Group Code.

The company explained that the Bauble Cocktail is a branded (Smirnoff, Gordon’s and Captain Morgan) plastic drinking vessel in the shape of a Christmas tree bauble with a plastic straw.  Images of the Bauble Cocktail were also used in point-of-sale advertising to promote the use of the vessels in licensed on-trade outlets.  This particular point-of-sale piece was used as part of a co-promotional activity with Greene King.

The company explained that when assessing whether a product or promotion has a ‘particular’ appeal to under-18s, the Portman Group’s guidance to paragraph 3.2(h) of the Code sets out that the assessment involves considering whether “the packaging/promotion appeals to/resonates with under-18s in a way that it does not with over-18s”.

The company went on to say that, in their strong view, the Christmas baubles have general appeal. The company explained that many homes, offices, and public places display Christmas trees and that baubles are a central feature on such trees. The company went on to say that baubles are used as decorations in many locations where under-18s are not present. For example, in licensed outlets, offices and homes without under-18s.

The company also explained that the bauble vessel had been designed in such a way to ensure it was mature and adult in its appearance and included “Captain Morgan”, “Gordon’s” and “Smirnoff” in trademarked fonts to ensure a primary adult appeal.

Finally, the company explained that bespoke drinking vessels are often used in the trade as marketing materials to boost sales of a particular brand or product, and that bauble-shaped drinking vessels have been used previously in the on-trade as part of the broader Christmas offering.

The Panel’s assessment

The Panel considered whether the Bauble Cocktail Co-Promotion had a particular appeal to under-18s. In doing so the Panel noted that the bauble was only available in on-trade outlets, in other words it was on display in locations where the vast majority of people would be over the age of 18.

The Panel then went on to consider whether or not Christmas as a holiday season had a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel agreed that Christmas is celebrated by all ages and did not feel it resonated with under-18s in a way that it did not with over-18s. Finally, the Panel noted that the bauble vessels were simple in design and did not use imagery which would particularly appeal to under-18s. For instance, the packaging did not include illustrations such as Father Christmas or elves.

In light of this, the Panel concluded that the product did not have a particular appeal to under-18s and was not in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(h).

Action by company

No action required.