JG Drinks Ltd t/a Copper in the Clouds
“Copper in the Clouds has a range of gin which feature cartoon like imagery such as a tiger in suit with glasses grating pepper onto a mango, as featured on their ”Mango & Black Pepper” gin bottle. The images are colourful and the characters are all anthropomorphic. Please see their website here https://copperintheclouds.co.uk/shop/
I believe these images will appeal to children under the age of 18. These characters are not adult in nature”
Portman Group acting in lieu of a referral from the Advertising Standards Authority
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
The company’s submission:
The company explained that it would respond to the single complaint received by a member of the public and would focus its response primarily on the packaging of the product as that was the basis of complaint.
The company highlighted that the illustration on the product label was bright, colourful and was intended to reflect the story of the contents of the bottle. The company explained that the presentation took a ‘playfully premium’ approach, which was intended to appeal to its target market which it had identified as predominantly female, concentrated in the 25-60 age range. The company explained that the hand finished nature of the product was intended to make the product stand out on-shelf from other spirits as the ideal gift.
The company went on to explain that the use of colour, shape and light made the design appeal to the human eye and that good design transcended age. The company stated that the design did not have a particular appeal to any age group and that it was simply an appealing illustration.
Finally, the company explained that it had sold close to 100,000 bottles in 2021 and that since the product was launched in 2016 this was the first complaint it had received. The company believed that it was severely disproportionate to investigate the product’s suitability for the market, based on the musings of one person.
The Panel’s Assessment:
The Panel discussed whether the product should be considered under any Code rule other than 3.2(h) as raised by the complainant. The Panel agreed that this was not required.
The Panel considered the overall impression conveyed by the product packaging and discussed the individual design elements that contributed toward this. The Panel considered that the Mango and Black Pepper flavour would appeal to adults as opposed to children and that the black, simplistic font used on the label was not overly childlike. The Panel also considered that the production process described on the back label was informative and adult in nature.
The Panel then examined the tiger and parrot characters on the front of the bottle. The Panel noted that the characters were clothed in an adult style and were engaged in activities that were unlikely to resonate with children. The Panel noted the size and placement of the characters and considered that they were placed prominently on the bottle and were a significant feature of the product artwork. The Panel discussed previous precedent relating to the presentation of anthropomorphic animals, in particular the Running With Sceptres case in 2020, but considered that their inclusion was not inherently a breach of Code rule 3.2(h) and that the utmost care had to be taken with prominence and presentation so that characters would not have a particular appeal to under-18s.
The Panel noted the high level of detail in the illustrations of the characters on the Mango and Black Pepper Gin and noted that they were not simplistic in their design. The Panel considered that the high level of detail in the product artwork, both for the jungle scene and the characters, contributed to the impression that the artwork could appear in a children’s story book, with some comparisons being made with The Wind in the Willows and The Tiger Who Came to Tea. The Panel discussed the characters in more detail and noted in particular the large eyes on the tiger and parrot. The Panel discussed how the ‘large eye’ technique was reminiscent of children’s films, where large eyes were used to make children connect with, and illicit sympathy for, the characters shown. The Panel considered that the prominence and illustrative style of the tiger and parrot, particularly with exaggerated large eyes, would have a particular appeal to under-18s.
The Panel also discussed the gift-wrapped nature of the product which included a ribbon at the top that when taken off revealed a replica label on the product’s bottle. The Panel noted that this was an innovative, premium concept but considered that this further contributed to the product having a particular appeal to under-18s as, when considered alongside the artwork, it was reminiscent of a Christmas gift that children may unwrap.
In conclusion, taking into account the overall impression conveyed by the product, the Panel considered that the artistic representation of the tiger and parrot with large eyes prominently displayed on the front of the bottle and the gift-wrapped nature of the product meant that that the product had a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel therefore upheld the complaint under Code rule 3.2(h).
Action by company:
Working with the Advisory Service.