Company: 247 Enterprises Ltd
Final Decision: 16 April 2009
Considered under the 4th Edition of the Code.
“In our view, the product contravenes the Portman Group Code because the name implies a lack of restraint… The website [www.rampantontour.co.uk] associates with sexual success and has images implying excessive drinking (e.g. someone carrying a poster stating “I’m off my tits”)…. In our view the attached poster also contravenes the Portman Group Code in a number of ways, principally its relationship between the product and sexual prowess.”
Gin and Vodka Association of Great Britain
Under Code paragraph 3.1
The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(d)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest any association with sexual activity or sexual success.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(e)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest that consumption of the drink can lead to social success or popularity.
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(g)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way urge the consumer to drink rapidly or to ‘down’ a product in one.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(i)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way incorporate images of people who are, or look as if they are, under 25 years of age, where there is any suggestion that they are drinking alcohol, or they are featured in a significant role. Images may be shown where people appear only in an incidental context.
The Company’s submission
The company said that they had had some teething problems with the marketing of their product which was a vodka-based flavoured drink with an ABV of 15% and packaged in 20ml test tubes. They said they had replaced their marketing team and maintained that they would be following the Portman Group Code more carefully in future.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel considered that the alcoholic nature of the drink was not clear from its packaging. Accordingly, the Panel found the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.1.
The Panel furthermore noted that the test-tube container could not be set down on its base on a flat surface. While noting that the product could in theory be re-sealed, the Panel nonetheless considered that the test-tube packaging format was effectively urging down-in-one consumption. The Panel accepted that the alcoholic content of a single container was moderate (approximately 0.3 of a unit) but was concerned that this was a style of consumption that was unwise and which the Code was seeking to prevent. Accordingly, the Panel found the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(g).
Given that the product was in breach of the Code for urging down-in-one consumption, the Panel considered it was also encouraging irresponsible consumption. Accordingly, the Panel found the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f).
[NOTE: The Independent Complaints Panel has since revised its opinion on whether test-tube containers necessarily urge down-in-one consumption or encourage irresponsible consumption – see decision on Quivers dated 11 May 2010]
With regard to the poster, the Panel noted that his featured an image of the drink being poured into bottles of RTDs beneath the statement: “Make anything Rampant, have a swig and pour it in Smirnoff Ice, WKD, Lager, anything!” Alongside was a picture of a young woman in a bikini with her fingers inside the bikini bottom.
The Panel noted that “Rampant” had various meanings, including “unrestrained”. It nonetheless considered that, in itself, the name was not necessarily in breach of the Code. In the context of this poster, however, the term “rampant” in combination with the provocative image of the woman carried sexual connotations. Accordingly, the Panel found the poster in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(d).
The Panel was further concerned at the poster’s advocacy of pouring the Rampant drink into a bottled drink. While noting the company’s argument that this was moving people away from downing the test-tube in one, it was concerned that it constituted the “spiking” of another alcoholic drink to make it stronger. The Panel considered that this was encouraging irresponsible and immoderate consumption. Accordingly, the Panel found the poster in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f).
With regard to the website, the Panel noted that this featured various photographs of people at Rampant promotional events. Some of the people were holding signs including, for example, a young woman holding a sign stating “I’m off my tits”. The company said that they had not been responsible for producing these signs and that they had removed problematic images from the website following notification of the complaint.
The Panel considered that the photographs featured people behaving in a sexually suggestive way, people who were apparently drunk, and people who looked under 25 years old. The Panel furthermore considered that the photographs implied that consumption of Rampant would lead to social success or popularity. The Panel accordingly found the website in breach of Code paragraphs 3.2(d), (e), (f) and (i).
Action by Company
The company did not respond. Therefore, the Retailer Alert Bulletin below was issued.