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Company: Bartex Barol Sp.J
Breach: Yes
Final Decision: 13 March 2014

Considered under the 4th Edition of the Code.

Complaint summary

“I wish to make a formal complaint on behalf of the Independent Complaints Panel regarding the packaging of the Red Army Vodka….namely; that the packaging and name breaches the Portman Code under section:

3.2       A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way:

(b)       suggest any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour.

The ICP felt that the packaging and name are both entirely inappropriate for an alcoholic drink as the public would immediately associate the product with the AK-47, which as a weapon, symbolises terror and violence, and hence has a direct association with violence, aggression and danger.”

Complainant

Independent Complaints Panel of the Responsible Retailing Code of Northern Ireland.

Decision

Under Code paragraph 3.2(b)

A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour.

UPHELD

The company’s submission

In its response, the producer said that the product was simply just a glass bottle in the shape of a gun, sold as a gift pack, and that it had nothing to do with weapons or violence. In its subsequent response the producer reiterated that it had no aim to ‘create or promote violence’ and that the company sold alcohol, not weapons.

The Panel’s assessment

The Panel considered the product name, the packaging and the overall presentation of the product. The Panel concluded the packaging and the name, Red Army in the context of the product packaging were unacceptable for an alcoholic drink because they suggested an association with violent and dangerous behaviour.  Despite the producer’s subsequent response the Panel found that the name, in the context of the packaging, and the packaging of the product were in breach of paragraph 3.2(b) of the Code.

Action by company

The Portman Group issued a Retailer Alert Bulletin

Retailer Alert Bulletin – Red Army