Cottage Delight Ltd
“The incidence of alcohol related harm in Scotland is rising sharply. In Aberdeenshire for example, the rate of alcohol-specific deaths has doubled in the last ten years. Responsible alcohol producers should not market products that promote drunkenness or binge drinking. We’d therefore wish to bring to Portman’s attention the “Piggin’ Drunk” product. We believe it is inappropriately named and labelled with the image of a partying intoxicated pig. By attributing this imagery to an alcoholic product, we believe the producer falls foul of Portman’s Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks rule 3.2f by depicting binge-drinking and drunkenness within the social context of a party or by celebrating drunkenness. Drinking the volume of a ‘piggin’, otherwise known as a wooden pail, implies immoderate consumption leading to drunkenness. In this day and age, one wonders how products such as this manage to slip through the Portman net and bring the alcohol industry into disrepute.”
Aberdeenshire Alcohol & Drug Partnership
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(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 stated that it was a socially responsible company and that it would not knowingly place a product on the market that promoted any form of drunken behaviour or binge drinking.
The company explained that it had read the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks and agreed with the Chair’s initial view that the case was not a clear-cut breach of Code rule 3.2(f). However, the company welcomed the Panel’s consideration of the product to determine whether it complied with the Code.
The company stated that it had sold beers for over ten years and that the range had always featured humorous titles and images. The company explained that the majority of consumers who bought the products did so as gifts.
The company explained that when it had originally designed the label for Piggin’ Drunk Ale, it had been intended to feature in a three-bottle pack that had an animal theme. The company stated that it was unaware that the word ‘Piggin’ was also a name for a wooden pail, and that it was only selected based on the farm animal. Having considered the information contained within the complaint from the Aberdeenshire Alcohol & Drug Partnership, and after discussion within its leadership team, the company confirmed that it had made the decision to discontinue the product once current stock had been sold.
The Panel’s assessment:
Code Rule 3.2(f)
The Panel first considered whether the product breached Code rule 3.2(f). The Panel discussed the word ‘piggin’ and the connotations of the word. The Panel noted the complainant’s concerns that the word ‘piggin’ related to a wooden pail and encouraged a consumer to drink the volume of a ‘piggin’, thereby creating an association with immoderate consumption. The Panel discussed the average consumer perception of the word and considered that, in modern parlance, most consumers would consider that ‘pigging out’ meant that one had consumed something in an excessive way or overindulged. The Panel therefore considered that the name ‘Piggin’, juxtaposed with ‘Drunk Ale’, intensified the meaning and concluded that ‘piggin’ was being used to denote ‘very drunk’ in this context, creating an association with immoderate consumption and binge-drinking. The Panel also noted the phrase on the side of the bottle which read “this little piggy is hogging all the beer” and considered that this, in conjunction with the name ‘Piggin’ Drunk’, also encouraged immoderate consumption of alcohol.
The Panel considered the word ‘drunk’ which featured alongside ‘piggin’ on the front of the product. The Panel expressed significant concern regarding an alcoholic product that incorporated the word ‘drunk’ in its name and explicitly created a link to excessive consumption of alcohol. The Panel therefore considered that the incorporation of the word ‘drunk’ was also a clear-cut breach of Code rule 3.2(f).
The Panel then discussed the image of the illustrated pig on the front label and considered that it looked inebriated as it was depicted with cross eyes whilst lying back and spilling the beer it was holding, creating a direct link between alcohol consumption and drunkenness. The Panel therefore concluded that the illustrated, inebriated pig encouraged immoderate consumption of alcohol and that this was further exacerbated by the product name ‘Piggin Drunk’ and subsequently breached Code rule 3.2(f).
Code Rule 3.2(h)
The Panel then considered whether the product had a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel noted that the product was originally sold in a pack with two other beers, and that the producer had provided an image of this design in its formal response. The Panel acknowledged that the two other products could not be considered as they were not subject to complaint and that its consideration could only be in relation to Piggin’ Drunk Ale.
The Panel noted that the pig was depicted in an illustrated style, which could potentially appeal to under-18s. However, the Panel considered that the colour palette was a muted design, and that the illustration of the pig did not appear particularly childish in its presentation and that it was unlikely to have a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel also noted that there were no other cues or elements on the rest of the packaging that had a particular appeal to under-18s. Accordingly, the Panel concluded that the product did not breach Code rule 3.2(h).
Finally, the Panel welcomed the company’s decision to discontinue the product and encouraged the company to engage with the Portman Group’s free Advisory Service regarding any future designs.
Action by company
Product has been discontinued by the company.