Company: Manchester United
Final Decision: 19 November 1996
“Manchester United FC’s own brand whisky contravenes the clause in your Code of Practice which states that ‘no personality, hero, icon or motif predominantly popular with under 18s should be used to endorse or promote the product.”
The complainant expressed concern because it was claimed that:
“Manchester United is not just the most popular football club with the young in the (Manchester) area but also throughout the rest of the country, Europe and the world. The drink will become closely associated in the minds of children and teenagers with the sporting prowess and success experienced by the Manchester United team.”
Greater Manchester and Lancashire Regional Council on Alcohol
Under Code paragraph 3.6
Packaging and point of sale materials should ensure that no personality, ‘hero’, icon or motif predominantly popular with under 18s should be used to endorse or promote the product.
The solicitors acting for Manchester United FC responded on behalf of the club. They refuted the complaint. They commented that the whisky is marketed under the Club label without reference to players, who are the elements of the Club which most appeal to youngsters.
They said that the vast majority of supporters were adults.
The Panel considered the product and correspondence.
The specific section of the Code (3.6) that forms the basis of the complaint contains the following points:
‘personality’ – no personality is featured on the packaging
‘hero’ – no hero is featured on the packaging
‘icon or motif’ – The Panel accepted the Club’s point that the majority of the Club supporters are adults and considered therefore that the Club shield and logo does not have a predominant appeal to under 18s.
The Panel considered that the complainant’s other points did not illuminate or illustrate the specific complaint under the Code, but raised other matters such as the general social responsibility or otherwise of a football club having own-label whisky. The Panel considered that these points may or may not be valid but they were not within the remit of the Code of Practice and should be taken up by the complainant directly with the Club.
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