There has been significant interest in the recent ICP decision against Tiny Rebel’s Cwtch. While we would not usually respond to commentary, in this case we feel it is important to clarify a number of details in the relation to the ruling.

Responding, John Timothy, Portman Group Chief Executive, said:

“Following the 2017 ruling, Tiny Rebel worked with the advisory service to make a number of changes to the design which significantly improved the can. However, as part of these discussions, and subsequently in writing, they were advised to remove the teddy bear logo from the front of can and place it on the side or back of the packaging. They failed to act on this important piece of advice and it is this decision that has resulted in a second breach of the Code. The Panel has made clear that it does not believe it is appropriate to place such an image on the front of an alcoholic drink.

“The ICP stated in its decision:

‘The Panel considered that the company could, in principle, use the bear as part of their corporate logo and include it on product packaging without breaching the Code, and noted that the Advisory Service had given previous advice which would have made this possible, which the company had chosen not to follow. In the Panel’s view, the presence of the teddy bear on the front of the can, coupled with the use in the design of a bubble font and bright primary colours, meant that the product had particular appeal to under 18s and they therefore upheld the complaint’.

“It has also been suggested by the Producer that the product would not have been in breach had it been in a bottle rather than a can.  This simply isn’t the case.  The ICP has been clear in previous cases that it believes producers must work harder to demonstrate the alcoholic nature of a 330ml can given the traditional association with soft drinks and the potential appeal therefore to under-18s. However, in this case, the Panel has been clear that its decision relates to the positioning of the corporate logo alongside other visual cues such as the primary colours and choice of font.

“I have spoken to the producer to clarify these points and to reiterate our offer to work with them to alleviate any outstanding concerns without having to pursue enforcement options. As it stands, Tiny Rebel have declined to work with us and so we will have little option but to issue a Retailer Alert Bulletin in order to protect the integrity of the self-regulatory system and public confidence in our effectiveness.”

Notes to editors

The RAB is the result of the decision by the ICP. The ICP is intentionally independent of the Portman Group. It is headed by Jenny Watson CBE a former Chair of the Electoral Commission and Chair of the Equal Opportunities Commission. The Panel is drawn from a range of civic society who has worked in education, youth work, charity, criminal justice, health, marketing, hospitality and the alcohol industry. It is this mix of views and experiences which provides them with the authority to jointly provide a considered view on complaints based on the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks.

It is not the place of the ICP to consider intention, but the consequences of design decisions. In this case on the appeal to children the Panel’s collective experience and understanding of their fields lead them to believe that Cwtch could be of particular appeal to minors.

Cwtch was considered by the panel on 5th September 2019 which also reviewed: Suicyder (Upheld and RAB issued), Thrill Seeker (Upheld), Show Off (Not-upheld) and Bloody Ell (Not-upheld). The Panel reviewed and affirmed its decision on Cwtch on 24 October 2019.

For more information please contact:

Nicola Bates

0207 290 1463 or comms@localhost

Notes to Editors

  1. The full decision from the Independent Complaints Panel is available on the Portman Group’s website here.
  2. 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 here.
  3. This complaint was considered under the fifth edition of the Code of Practice. Complaints received after 23rd September 2019 are subject to the rules in the sixth edition.
  4. The Panel 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.
  5. Since the Code was introduced in 1996, the packaging and/or marketing of over 150 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.
  6. 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.
  7. The Portman Group is the alcohol industry regulator. It has over 130 code signatories and it is funded by eight member companies: Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands UK; Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I; Carlsberg UK; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Mast-Jäegermeister UK; Molson Coors Brewing Company UK; Pernod Ricard UK.
  8. An image of Tiny Rebel’s Cwtch is available on request.