Company: The Wychwood Brewery Company Ltd
Final Decision: 11 May 1998
Considered under the 2nd Edition of the Code.
“3.1(h)(iii) and 3.2(ii). The label of this bottle is very brightly coloured and uses lettering of a cartoon nature which is likely to appeal to under 18s. The word ‘alcoholic‘ is not as prominent on the front of the bottle as the name ‘orange punch‘. While it could be argued that the work ‘punch‘ suggests that the product is alcoholic, the alcoholic content of the drink is not made sufficiently clear”.
Under Code paragraph 3.1(h)(iii)
The brand name, product descriptor, packaging (including any containers and any external wrapping), labelling and point of sale materials of any alcoholic drink should not in any direct or indirect way be more likely to appeal to under 18s than adults through, for example the use of artificially bright colours or style of lettering predominantly associated with under 18s.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(i)(a)
Unless the overall appearance of the product is clearly one of adult appeal, the name or descriptor of a pre-packaged alcoholic drink/mixer combination should, wherever appropriate, specify by its common name the type of alcohol used as an ingredient (for example, “rum and cola”, “vodka and lemonade”).
Under Code paragraph 3.2(ii)
Where, under (i) above, the alcoholic ingredient is not of a specified type, then the word “alcoholic” must be part of the name or descriptor and must be as prominent (in terms of size, colour, style of lettering and filed of vision) as the word(s) describing the non-alcoholic element of the product.
The company’s submission
The company claims the oranges are accurately represented on the bottle and that the lettering is ‘in the style of orange peel. Their aim is to make the product “appealing yet adult”.
They compare the description of the alcoholic nature and content with that found on Smirnoff Mule, V2, Metz and Hooch, arguing that the abv is prominent on their product, that the word ‘punch‘ implies an alcoholic drink and that in addition they have used the word ‘alcoholic‘. In a second letter (also attached), they go on to compare the pictures and description on their product with those on ‘Source‘, a new product manufactured by a TPG member company.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel did not agree that the lettering was of a cartoon nature. It did not consider that the colours and lettering used on the packaging were predominantly associated with under 18s, nor that they would be more likely to appeal to under 18s than to adults. Thus, the Panel did not uphold the complaint under paragraph 3.1(h)(iii) of the Code.
The Panel considered there was a similarity between the oranges shown on this bottle and a design often used on bottles of orange squash. This contributed to the Panel’s view that from its appearance the product was not “clearly one of adult appeal”, as meant by Paragraph 3.2 of the Code. The word “alcoholic” was offset from the front of the bottle, at an angle and in white lettering; in the Panel’s view, it was not as prominent as the words “orange punch”. Hence the Panel upheld the complaint under paragraph 3.2(ii) of the Code.
In addition to the Panel’s finding that the word “alcoholic” was relatively inconspicuous, and noting that the word “punch” does not invariably describe an alcoholic drink, the Panel’s view was that there could be confusion as to the alcoholic nature of the product. Accordingly the Panel upheld the complaint under paragraph 3.1(a) of the Code.
In reaching its final decision, the Panel had been invited by the company to consider samples of Hooch, V2, Source, Metz and Mule. The Panel pointed out, however, that it judges each complaint on its own particular merits.
Since making its provisional decision, the Panel has been pleased to note the company’s confirmation in relation to this product that it will adhere to the Code, that it is running down stocks and that no further supplies will be produced in its current form.
Action by company
The company agreed not to produce further stocks in the current packaging and run down existing stocks.
Licensees were asked by the Portman Group not to place orders for stocks in the existing packaging after 20 August 1998 and licensees who placed orders before this date were asked to consider limiting the order to the quantity which would normally be sold by that date.