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Healey's Texan-style Hard Cyder

07/02/2012
Company: The Cornish Cyder Farm
Breach: Yes

Complaint Summary:

I am confused as to whether the current labeling of the Healey’s bottled “Texan-Style Hard Cyder” breaks any of the codes of the Portman Group.
 
My concern comes from the fact that here in the East Midlands (and in much of the UK I guess?) the term “hard” is frequently related to being tough, violent and aggressive. On this label the word ‘hard’ is in a red font which may also suggest aggression. Will the impressionable younger drinker of this cider feel that he/she will be tough and ‘hard’ by drinking ‘hard’ cider?
 
Of course in the USA, “hard cider” is alcoholic cider, while “cider” is simply apple-juice. But will young UK drinkers get that message? 

Complainant: 

Member of the public

Decision: 

Under Code paragraph 3.2(a)

A drink, its packaging or promotion should not give the higher alcoholic strength, or the intoxicating effect, undue emphasis. A product’s lower alcoholic strength may be emphasised proportionately when it is below the average strength for similar beverages. Factual information about alcoholic strength may be given.

UPHELD

Under Code paragraph 3.2(b)

A drink, its packaging or promotion should not suggest any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behaviour (though sponsorship of activities which may be dangerous after alcohol consumption, such as motor racing, or yachting are not in themselves in breach of this clause).

NOT UPHELD

Under Code paragraph 3.2(h)

A drink, its packaging or promotion should not have a particular appeal to under-18s (in the case of sponsorship, those under 18 years of age should not comprise more than 25% of the participants, audience or spectators).

NOT UPHELD

The company’s submission:

The company explained that the product had been inspired by Texan heritage and the company’s Cornish drinks producing roots. It had adopted the American terminology of ‘hard’ cider for what is known as ‘cider’ in the UK and used the hot, dry and hard desert environment as the graphical theme for the label. The company also explained that the back label clearly explained and defined the term ‘hard’ cider to refer to an alcoholic drink. Furthermore, the company felt that to suggest that under-18s would not understand the ‘hard’ cider message as defining an alcoholic product was unreasonable and not supported by any evidence-based research.

The Panel’s assessment:

The Panel acknowledged that there was an explanation on the back label explaining the use of ‘hard’ cider as referring to an alcoholic drink. The Panel felt, however, that this explanation was not relevant to UK consumers to whom ‘cider’ exclusively refers to an alcoholic drink. Furthermore, the Panel considered that, while in some UK regions, the term ‘hard’ could imply a person who was violent and aggressive, this term was not universally recognised, whereas ‘hard’ in the context of an alcoholic drink had direct associations with strong alcohol thereby making alcoholic strength the dominant theme on the packaging. Accordingly, the Panel upheld the complaint against the product under Code paragraph 3.2(a) and did not uphold the complaint under Code paragraph 3.2(b).

The Panel then considered whether there was anything on the packaging which would lead the product to have a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel felt that overall the product did not have a particular appeal to under-18s and accordingly did not uphold the complaint under Code rule 3.2(h).

Action by Company: 

The company agreed to consult the Portman Group’s Advisory Service.