Company: Shooters (UK) Ltd
Final Decision: 17 September 2004
Considered under the 3rd Edition of the Code.
“We are aware of a vodka tube drink named ”Shooters” which clearly breaches the Portman Group Code of Practice. The name of the tube drinks which breach 3.2(d) are: Blow Job, Orgasm, Foreplay, Bit on the Side and Sex on the Beach.”
Strelley Enterprises Ltd
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(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.
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 success.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(g)
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 Panel’s assessment
The Panel first considered whether any of the flavour names in the Shooters range, including those cited by the complainants, suggested an association with sexual success. It noted the producers’ argument that they had used well-known international cocktail names for their pre-mixed cocktail products and welcomed their acknowledgement that they now knew that these names were unacceptable in the context of the Code. The Panel considered that in view of alcohol’s potential to impair judgement and affect behaviour, to link indirectly alcohol and sexual activity in a drink’s name was undesirable because it might encourage and/or trivialise excessive consumption and potentially harmful attitudes and behaviour. It considered that Code paragraph 3.2(d) was designed to prevent such marketing approaches and concluded that the cocktail flavour names ‘Blow Job’, ‘Orgasm’, ‘Foreplay’, ‘Bit on the Side’, ‘Sex on the Beach’ as well as ‘Love Juice’ and ‘Too Hot to Handle’ contained either a direct or indirect association with sexual success in breach of this paragraph.
The Panel then considered whether the product range suggested any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour. It acknowledged that the name of the product range, ‘Shooters’, reflected the shot nature of the product which was described on the label as ‘the shot in a test tube’. It was concerned, however, that the name ‘Shooters’ in conjunction with the images on the labels of targets viewed through gun sights, clearly suggested an association with guns which it concluded was in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(b).
The Panel also considered whether the product had a particular appeal to under 18s. It concluded that the product had a particular appeal to under 18s because of the unusual and gimmicky nature of the test tube packaging combined with the bright colours of the product which were visible through the transparent containers. Hence, the Panel found the product range in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(g).
The Panel finally considered whether the alcoholic nature of the product was communicated with absolute clarity on its packaging. It noted that the individual test tube shaped containers displayed the product’s strength as ‘ABV 15%’ or ‘ABV 14.9%’ and featured flavour descriptors which also stated the respective alcoholic ingredients such as vodka, brandy, whisky, triplesec and tequila. The Panel was concerned, however, that when the product was in the display box with the flavour name facing forward or when it was picked up so that the flavour name could be read, these references could not be seen. The Panel was also concerned that the only reference on the front of the display box to the product’s alcoholic nature was an “abv” reference in the bottom right hand corner which it considered was too small to be easily read. Hence, the Panel concluded that the alcoholic nature of the product was not clearly communicated and therefore found the product’s packaging in breach of Code paragraph 3.1.
Action by company
The Panel welcomed the fact that the company was liaising with the Advisory Service to amend the Shooters range in order to comply with the Code.