Company: United Brands Ltd
Final Decision: 11 March 2005
Considered under the 3rd Edition of the Code.
“The sexual content of the product’s website is very strong and it is obvious that the company are using sexual images to sell the drink. The website allows visitors to download a variety of images of nude couples as screensavers and purchase as posters which it describes as ‘definitely not for the sweet and innocent’.
…the cocktail recipe names ‘Dooley’s with Head’, ‘A Kick in the Dooley’s’ and Sticky Nuts’ go against the spirit of the Code and associate Dooley’s with sexual success.
We object to the competition on the website which offers a prize of a case of Dooley’s which the site says ‘is enough to get you into all sorts of trouble’ in relation to 3.2(f) of the Code…surely (this is) encouraging irresponsible consumption of alcohol.”
A previous complaint about this product appealing to young people was not upheld despite the Panel admitting that ‘the packaging was brightly coloured and…that there was some similarity between the design of the packaging and the graphics on some confectionary wrappers.’ The Dooley’s website actually states that ‘the packaging reflects its appeal to both the young and the young at heart’…It is the view of Alcohol Focus Scotland that this product’s packaging clearly breaches the Code.”
Alcohol Focus Scotland
Under Code paragraph 3.2(d)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest any association with sexual success.
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 binge-drinking, drunkenness or drink-driving.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(g)
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.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel first considered whether the download images on the website and the cocktail names highlighted by the complainants suggested an association with sexual success. It noted that the black and white images ranged from a man licking a woman’s chin and foot to explicit images of nude couples embracing. The producers said that they did not accept that they had used sexual images to sell the product but agreed that some parts of the website might no longer be appropriate. The Panel considered that the images both indirectly and in some cases directly suggested an association with sexual success in breach of paragraph 3.2(d) of the Code. It considered that the cocktail names ‘Dooley’s with Head’, ‘A Kick in the Dooley’s’ and ‘Sticky Nuts’ when juxtaposed with the images also suggested an indirect association with sexual success. The Panel therefore welcomed the fact that producers intended to remove the images and replace the cocktail names.
The Panel then considered whether the claim that the competition prize of a case of Dooley’s was ‘enough to get you into all sorts of trouble’ encouraged the irresponsible consumption of alcohol. Although it noted the producers’ intention to remove the competition page in its current format, the Panel did not object to the claim under Code paragraph 3.2(f).
Finally the Panel considered whether the product’s packaging had a particular appeal to under 18s. The producers pointed out that in 2002 the Panel had dismissed a complaint about the packaging design. They also said that in 2003 they had removed the image of a toffee from the bottle and introduced the words ‘Original Toffee & Vodka’ beneath the Dooley’s name on all side of the bottle to further distance the brand from any association with confectionary products. The Panel noted that the packaging was brightly coloured and eye-catching and that ‘Dooley’s’ was in cartoon style lettering. It considered, however, that although the product appeared to be aimed at the younger end of the 18+ market, it would not have a particular appeal to under 18s. The Panel further considered that the phrase ‘the packaging reflects its appeal to both the young and the young at heart’ would not be seen as a reference to under 18s in particular. Hence the Panel found neither the packaging nor the website in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(g).
Action by company
The Panel welcomed the fact that the company intended to remove the download images from the website and replace the cocktail names.