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Company: Corinthian Brands (CBL) Ltd
Breach: No
Final Decision: 10 September 2015

Considered under the 4th Edition of the Code.

Complaint summary

“A 500ml can of Dragon Soop contains the daily alcohol limit for a man and exceeds the limit for a female. This in my opinion would encourage irresponsible drinking as in my opinion people don’t often only drink one can. This encourages binge drinking and drunkenness. This drink, in my opinion, is highly attractive to the younger audience as it in a brightly coloured can, has a cartoon dragon displayed and comes in flavours which younger people would like.”

Complainant

Middlesbrough Council (Public Health Team)

Decision

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.

NOT UPHELD

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 outlining its stance on responsible drinking, explaining that it takes its responsibilities as a drinks producer and its regulatory obligations very seriously, and that they were a Portman Group Code Signatory. They explained that in designing the product they had paid careful regard to the Portman Group’s Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcohol Drinks (Code), the UK Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO) daily unit guidelines and the Public Health Responsibility Deal pledges particularly pledge A8(b)[1]. The company stated that the pledge sets the standard for responsible packaging in single serve cans, specifying that supporters will not produce or sell any carbonated products with more than 4 units of alcohol in a single-serve can. Dragon Soop in a 500ml can contains 4 units of alcohol.   The company said that producers need to be able to rely on standards set out in the pledge.

The company drew comparison with a previous case, Carlsberg Special Brew 9% 500ml can, highlighting that whilst the Panel had upheld a complaint against the 500ml product, which contained 4.5 units of alcohol per can, the 440ml can, which contains 4 units, is still for sale in supermarkets.

The company stated that the product responds to an established on–trade demand for self-mixed caffeinated alcoholic drinks, with a responsibly marketed brand in a can which is clearly marked and with an alcohol content which meets the industry and governments own standards.

The company explained that the product had been designed to appeal to the 18–35 age group, and had been mindful of the Code during the design process. The company also explained that the designer had specifically steered clear of cartoon style imagery for the dragon and that the dragons used for inspiration were clearly of an adult nature, such as those used for Tattoos (which are illegal on under-18s).

The company noted that the colours used on the product were not exceptionally bright and were chosen to reflect the flavours, which are widely used in the UK alcoholic drinks market. They drew comparisons with two other products, Crunk Juce and Bacardi Breezer Watermelon and Orange, which use similar colours. The Panel had in the past found both products not to be in breach of Code rule 3.2 (h).

[1] To support our pledge to remove a billion units of alcohol sold annually from the market, we will carry out a review of the alcohol content and container sizes of all alcohol producers in our portfolio.  By December 2014 we will not produce or sell any carbonated product with more than (4) units of alcohol in a single-serve can.

The Panel’s assessment

The Panel considered whether the packaging encouraged illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption.  When interpreting and applying the term ‘immoderate’, the Panel reflected on their previous decisions (4 unit threshold) and the wider societal context:

The Panel noted the Public Health Responsibility Deal pledges, in particular pledge A8(b) which states that signatories ‘will not produce or sell any carbonated product with more than (4) units of alcohol in a single-serve can’, a pledge that the Panel noted had been welcomed by the Public Health Minister and has been voluntarily endorsed across the drinks industry. The Panel also acknowledged that a number of Local Authorities had introduced schemes to remove strong beer and cider as these were considered to be products of choice for problem drinkers. It was noted that whilst 4 units of alcohol is on the threshold of the CMO daily unit guidelines for men (4 units) and above for women (2-3 units), taking into consideration all factors within the context of the case, they concluded that on balance the product did not encourage immoderate consumption. Accordingly, the Panel did not uphold the product under Code paragraph 3.2(f).

Finally, the Panel considered the use of colours and imagery on the packaging, and agreed that whilst some of the colours were bright the imagery was not overly childlike or likely to particularly appeal to under-18s. Similarly, they did not think that the dragon image used would particularly appeal to under-18s. Accordingly, the Panel did not uphold the product under Code Paragraph 3.2(h).

Action by company

No further action required.