A recent complaint about Pernod Ricard UK’s Jameson Irish Whiskey Barrelback On-Trade Promotion was upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel). A copy of the full decision can be read here. The complainant, Alcohol Change UK, expressed concern that the on-trade promotion offers customers the opportunity to buy a single measure of Jameson’s whiskey in a small metal barrel which can be hooked on to a pint glass. Alcohol Change UK said that the on-trade promotion encourages consumers to ‘try a measure of Jameson with your pint’ – therefore for each pint of beer (around 2.5 units of alcohol) customers are encouraged to add another unit in the form of whiskey, increasing the alcoholic content of each round by 40%. Reviewing the on-trade promotion in detail, the Panel believed:

  • That most UK consumers would not be familiar with the serve and on the point-of-sale material the serve looked more akin to a chaser, where a consumer would down the shot of whiskey before or after consuming the beer.
  • The point of sale material therefore needed to work harder to communicate the intended sipping nature of the serve.
  • The words “no more either or” on the point-of-sale material gave the impression that consumers did not have to make a choice between different drinks and encouraged consumers to drink more than they otherwise would have done.
  • That the barrel did not urge down in one consumption as it had a flat base so the intention was that it could be placed on a surface and consumed at intervals and furthermore, the phrase ‘with your pint’ was included on the point-of-sale material.

On this basis, the Panel upheld the complaint under Code Rule 3.2(f) for encouraging irresponsible consumption as the promotional material needed to communicate the sipping nature of the serve. The Panel however did not uphold the complaint under Code Rule 3.2(g) because the promotional material did not ‘urge’ consumers to drink rapidly or to ‘down’ a product in one. A spokesperson for Pernod Ricard UK said: “As one of the leading wines and spirits companies, Pernod Ricard UK is committed to the responsible marketing and promotion of its products. We acknowledge the Independent Complaints Panel’s decision and in light of this, we will ensure that future adverts of the Jameson Barrelback Whiskey clearly communicate a sipping message.” Commenting on the decision by the Independent Complaints Panel, a Portman Group spokesperson said: “This decision by the Independent Complaints Panel highlight that producers should ensure that promotions and point-of-sale material do not encourage irresponsible drinking. Producers should think carefully about what is conveyed by the overall impression of promotions and point-of-sale material and speak to our advisory service if in any doubt. We are pleased that Pernod Ricard UK will no longer be using this point-of-sale material and are obtaining advice from our Advisory Service on future promotions.” For more information please contact:

Melanie Woodnick

Interim Director of External Affairs

0207 290 1463 or 07719 324021 or mwoodnick@localhost

Notes to editors:

  1. A copy of the full decision from the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel) can be read here.
  2. All complaint decisions made by the Panel are available on the Portman Group website.
  3. The Portman Group’s Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks applies to, all pre-packaged alcoholic drinks and the promotional activities of all drinks producers. A copy of the Code may be downloaded
  4. This complaint was considered under the fifth edition of the Code of Practice. The sixth edition of the Code was published on 4th March and will come into full effect on 23rd September 2019. Complaints received after 23rd September will be subject to the rules in the sixth edition.
  5. The Panel, which hears complaints, is chaired by Jenny Watson CBE. The other members of the Panel are: David Macdonald, Angela McNab, Rosalie Weetman, Jon Collins, Graeme Mckenzie, Claire Fowler, Daniel Jourdan and Rachel Childs. More information on the Panel can be found here.
  6. Since the Code was introduced in 1996, the packaging and/or marketing of over 140 drinks have been found to breach the Code. In the case of a Code breach concerning a drink’s packaging or point-of-sale material, a timetable for implementing the necessary changes – not normally exceeding three months – will be supplied in writing to the company concerned. Retailers may be notified of the decision taken by the Independent Complaints Panel and requested not to replenish stocks or point-of-sale material of any product found in breach of the Code, after the date specified by the Code Secretariat.
  7. The Portman Group provides a free and confidential Advisory Service for alcohol producers to check products prior to launch and seek advice on responsible alcohol marketing. Over 2000 separate advice requests have been answered since 2010. Email: advice@localhost.
  8. The Portman Group is the alcohol industry regulator. It is funded by its eight member companies: Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands UK; Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I; Carlsberg UK; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Jägermeister UK; Molson Coors Brewing Company UK; Pernod Ricard UK.
  9. Images of “Sweet Little” Drinks are available on request.