Search portmangroup.org.uk

Close

Company: Wychwood Brewery Co. Ltd
Breach: Yes
Final Decision: 19 November 1996

Considered under the 1st Edition of the Code

Complaint Summary

“The name of this product is such that a large number of the public would find it offensive. The cartoon character used is more likley to appeal to under 18s than adults.”

Complainant

Police Sergeant, West Murcia Constabulary

Decision

Complaint on naming

UPHELD

The company doubted whether the Code Panel had the remit to consider the first part of the complaint. However, they said that the name ‘Dogs Bollocks’ had been tested in the courts and had been found not to offend public morality. The Panel sought further details from the company who supplied a newspaper article from The Daily Telegraph dated 24.11.1977 referring to a magistrate’s decision on the use of the word ‘bollocks’ on a Sex Pistols record sleeve. The judgement did not refer to the whole phrase ‘dogs¬†bollocks’.

The Code is primarily concerned with ensuring that alcoholic drinks do not predominantly appeal to under 18s but also covers other matters, e.g. violent or aggressive matters, images or suggestions of sexual prowess (section 2.1.5, 2.1.6 of the Code).

The Panel concluded that it did have a remit to consider all parts of this complaint.

The Chairman of the magistrates in the 1977 case said that “much as my colleagues and I whole-heartedly deplore the vulgar expoitation of human nature…we must reluctantly find you not guilty.” The magistrates’ decisions concerned charges under the Indecent Advertisements Act 1898.

The Panel considered on The Portman Group Code of Practice and found that the word ‘bollocks’ refers in slang terms to the testicles, contravening Code Section 2.1.6 on sexual prowess. The Panel accepts that the whole slang phrase ‘the dogs bollocks’ can mean ‘the best’ but in this case the label clearly brings attention to the words ‘Dogs Bollocks’. The added strapline ‘Dangerously Drinkable’ contravenes Code section 2.1.5 by suggesting dangerous behaviour. The Panel concluded that the naming of this product does not comply with the Code.

Complaint on the cartoon character

UPHELD

The company said that the dog’s head was solely an illustration of the name of the beer and does not have a particular appeal to under 18s.

The Panel accepted that there was no deliberate attempt to appeal to children. The Group concluded that the dog’s head cartoon was similar to exisiting motifs on children’s books and cartoons appealing to young children. The Panel concluded that the cartoon character does not comply with the Code.

Action by Company

The company has communicated its decision to withdraw this product from sale and to become a Signatory to the Code of Practice.