Company: Spirit Hop And Grape Holdings Ltd
Final Decision: 12 September 2003
Considered under the 3rd Edition of the Code.
“The name Shag suggests sexual intercourse, as this is a common use of the word (Concise Oxford Dictionary – ‘have sexual intercourse with; an act of sexual intercourse’)”
The Wine and Spirit Association
Under Code paragraphs 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 success.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel first noted that in July 2001, it had considered a complaint about Shag Lager, also produced by this company, under the 2nd edition of the Code. It had ruled that even though the name “Shag” was likely to be understood as a reference to sexual intercourse, it did not suggest sexual success or prowess in that instance.
The Panel noted that the wording of the relevant paragraph in the 3rd and latest version of the Code had changed to state that a drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest any association with sexual success. The Panel therefore considered that the threshold test for compliance with the Code was different to the earlier version and that the Code had been revised specifically to discourage any association with sexual success.
The Panel noted the producer’s arguments that they were no longer using ‘traditional British postcard humour’ in their promotional material and packaging, that the brand had undergone a facelift to appeal to its target market of 18-35 year old clubbers and that a “shag” was a type of seabird, a cartoon visual of which was featured on the neck label.
However, the Panel also noted that “shag” was a commonly used slang word for sexual intercourse, particularly among the product’s target market, and considered this was how consumers were most likely to interpret the brand name. It also considered that in view of alcohol’s potential to impair judgement and affect behaviour, to link alcohol and sexual activity in a product’s name, packaging or promotional material was undesirable because it might encourage potentially harmful attitudes and behaviour. It considered that paragraph 3.2(d) of the new Code was designed to prevent such marketing approaches and therefore concluded that the brand name of Shag Lime and the other flavour variants in the range were in breach of this paragraph.