Jatt Life Ltd t/a Jatt Life
On the official Jatt Life Global website they even promote merchandise for young children with baby grows and baby bib’s, clearly this is something that a responsible alcohol brand should not be intending to do? Especially when they have the wording ‘make mine a double’ on a babies bib’
‘I would also like to raise concerns over the name as it is a name based around caste, which within the Sikh religion is not condoned nor do practising Sikh’s drink alcohol so it is very disrespectful.’
‘I have great issue with the branding of Jatt Life as the term Jatt represents casteism within our religion and culture and creates a great divide in our communities, in addition to that, myself I come from a Jatt background and culturally a Jatt is usually used in the context of drunken party behaviour, where extreme drinking occurs including downing ‘in one’, free pouring of spirits, drinking recklessly directly from a bottle. Within our culture this is widely understood, even from the bhangra music the term Jatt is closely associated with drunken behaviour, bravado, aggression, fighting, guns, weapons, womanising, drugs and more.’
Member of the public
Under Code paragraph 3.2(b)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behaviour.
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 activity or sexual success
Under Code paragraph 3.2(e)
A drink, it’s packaging or promotion should not suggest that consumption of the drink can lead to social success or popularity
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
Under Code paragraph 3.2(g)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way urge the consumer to drink rapidly or to ‘down’ a product in one;
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 (in the case of sponsorship, those under 18 years of age should not comprise more than 25% of the participants, audience or spectators
Under Code paragraph 3.3
A drink’s name, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not cause serious or widespread offence.
The company’s submission
The company began by explaining that it had been set up in March 2020 and that it acted diligently to ensure that the brand image was that of a luxury, ultra-premium brand. The company explained that the spirit range was manufactured and available to purchase in the UK and was distributed globally to Australia, Canada and New Zealand. The company stated that it believed the complaint had come from an individual who was uncomfortable with the success of the company and that the complainant was not driven by concerns about non-compliance with the Portman Group Codes of Practice.
The company explained that it was happy to correct anything that did not comply with the Codes of Practice but that, in regard to this particular complaint, it did not believe the product packaging or branded merchandise were in breach.
In response to the first part of the complaint about the branded babygrow and bib, which included the phrases ‘Jatt Life Baby’ and ‘Make mine a double’, the company stated that the items were a fun bit of marketing. The company explained that the word ‘jatt’ translated to ‘farmer’ and so the babygrow, that read as ‘Jatt Life Baby’ therefore translated to ‘Farmer Baby’. The company also explained that the bib that stated, ‘Make mine a double’ was a joke about drinking milk. The company stated that it had personal experience of other bibs with humorous quotes on them such as ‘I have a drinking problem’ and ‘I drink till I pass out’. The company explained that the bib and babygrow were created as fun and quirky gift ideas and were not encouraging parents to give their babies a double shot of vodka.
The company then addressed the second part of the complaint regarding the product name ‘Jatt Life’ and reiterated that ‘jatt’ translated to ‘farmer’ and had no other connotations or anything to do with religion.
In response to the last part of the complaint about the term ‘Jatt’ having cultural associations with drunken behaviour, bravado, aggression, fighting, guns, weapons, womanising and drugs, the company stated that it believed that this was an entirely subjective point and had never heard the term used in this way before. The company repeated that ‘Jatt’ translated to ‘farmer’ and had no connotations with any issues that the complainant had raised. The company therefore believed that the product packaging and branded merchandise were not in breach of Code rules 3.2(b), 3.2(d), 3.2(e), 3.2(f), 3.2(g) or 3.2(h.).
In response to whether the product packaging and branded merchandise breached Code rule 3.3, the company explained that it had been trading since March 2020, had sold hundreds of thousands of bottles globally, had appeared in numerous press articles and had won awards for the product, but that this was the first time it had heard that someone had been offended by the brand name.
The Panel’s assessment
Jatt Life Original Vodka and Brand Name
The Panel began by discussing the overall impression conveyed by the packaging of Jatt Life Original Vodka. The Panel noted that the label was muted, mature and included limited text on the back label which referred to the quality of the ingredients and the line ‘we don’t settle for anything less than the best…so why should you’. The Panel also noted that the back label included the UK Chief Medical Officers’ Low Risk Drinking Guidelines and a pregnancy warning. After thorough analysis of the product label, the Panel concluded that there was no direct, or indirect, association with anti-social or dangerous behaviour, sexual activity or success, social success, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, encouragement to drink rapidly or elements that could be considered to have a particular appeal to under-18s. Accordingly, the Panel did not uphold the complaint under Code rules 3.2(b), 3.2(d), 3.2(e), 3.2(f), 3.2(g) and 3.2(h).
The Panel considered the name ‘Jatt Life’, and whether it had any connotations that could cause serious or widespread offence. The Panel discussed its own research of the word ‘jatt’ and stated that it understood that the term referred to a member of an agricultural people who resided mostly in Punjab but were present in other areas of Northern India and Pakistan comprised of Muslim, Hindu, and Sikh groups. Outside of this definition, the Panel understood that the word could be used to refer to a person who was a ‘peasant’ and noted that there was some anecdotal evidence which associated certain stereotypes with the group such as consuming alcohol and living a hedonistic lifestyle.
The Panel acknowledged that there could be a dual meaning to the word ‘jatt’ and therefore discussed how the word was likely to be understood, with particular focus on the producer’s usage of the word. The Panel noted that while there could be some cultural stereotypes associated with the word it was clear in the producer’s marketing of the product that it was proud of the term and that the word was only used in a positive manner to refer to Jatt Life as an aspirational lifestyle, as opposed to being used as a derogatory term.
The Panel noted that the complainant had raised concerns that the word was seriously offensive within the Sikh community. The Panel therefore requested that expert advice be sought from various Sikh representative organisations to understand more about the definition of the term and any potential cultural meanings associated with the word. The Code Secretariat sought a view from five Sikh representative organisations all of which did not respond.
In light of the above, the Panel discussed whether the phrase was likely to inherently cause serious offence, or whether it was viewed as offensive by some based on cultural stereotypes. While the Panel acknowledged that the name was seriously offensive to the complainant, the Panel noted that the complainant had provided no evidence to support their assertions and could find no evidence which suggested the term was seriously offensive within the Sikh community or to the average consumer in a serious or widespread capacity.
Given the lack of evidence to the contrary, the Panel stated that there was nothing on the product packaging, or in the producer’s accompanying marketing, that suggested the name ‘Jatt Life’ caused serious or widespread offence and accordingly did not uphold the complaint against the product name ‘Jatt Life’ under Code rule 3.3.
Jatt Life Babygrow and Jatt Life Bib
The Panel then discussed the Jatt Life babygrow and Jatt Life bib. The Panel noted the wording of Code rule 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’ and discussed accompanying guidance issued by the Portman Group which stated that the word ‘particular’ was not a test of quantity but the way in which something appeals i.e. the packaging/promotion resonates with under-18s in a way that it does not with adults The Panel discussed whether baby clothing would have a particular appeal to under-18s as it was predominantly aimed at adults and designed to fundamentally appeal to adults as opposed to babies. The Panel acknowledged that the phrase ‘make mine a double’, which was on the bib, could be seen as amusing to young adults and was intended in a tongue in cheek way that did not realistically encourage parents to feed vodka to their babies. The Panel discussed whether the Jatt Life brand was likely to be understood as a brand beyond producing alcohol, similar to other conglomerates that may have numerous subsidiaries operating under one company name. However, the Panel concluded that the phrasing ‘make mine a double’, in combination with the company’s status as an alcohol producer, created a strong association between the brand and alcohol.
The Panel stated that despite these points, it was fundamentally uncomfortable with alcohol branding appearing on children’s apparel. The Panel returned to the wording of Code rule 3.2(h) and considered that the items did not breach the letter of Code rule 3.2(h) which required a ‘particular’ appeal to under-18s because by nature the intended wearer (a baby) was unlikely to have the faculties to choose its own clothing. On that basis, the Panel found that neither the Jatt Life babygrow or Jatt Life bib created a technical breach of the Code and accordingly did not uphold the complaint under Code rule 3.2(h).
During discussion, the Panel noted that rule 3.4 of the Portman Group’s Alcohol Sponsorship Code read as ‘Drinks companies must not allow the placement of their brand names, logo or trademark (including the non-alcoholic version of the alcohol brand) on merchandise which has a particular appeal to/intended for use primarily by under-18s’. The Panel acknowledged that the branded merchandise did not form part of a sponsorship agreement but noted that the wording in the Alcohol Sponsorship Code could have captured such activity if the rule wording was replicated in the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks Code. The Panel strongly encouraged the Portman Group to address the current regulatory gap in the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks Code so that branded alcohol merchandise for babies was not permitted in the future.
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