Company: Shooters UK
Final Decision: 11 May 2010
Considered under the 4th Edition of the Code.
“Alcohol Focus Scotland would like to complain about these drinks in relation to clauses 3.2 (f) and (g) of The Portman Group’s Code of Practice which state that a drink, its packaging and any promotional activity should not encourage irresponsible or immoderate consumption or urge the consumer to drink rapidly or to “down” a product in one. All of these drinks are sold in test tube packaging which means they are clearly designed to be downed in one go rather than sipped. The containers cannot be set down on a flat surface so the consumer has to drink it all at once. It is the view of Alcohol Focus Scotland that these products do not promote a positive message of safe and responsible drinking and clearly breach The Portman Group’s Code of Practice.”
Alcohol Focus Scotland
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.
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.
The company’s submission
The company said that they had worked very closely with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service to try and ensure their product complied with the Code. They explained that each of their test-tube drinks contained just 0.28 of an alcohol unit, the tube could be re-sealed and they did not promote down-in-one drinking. They disputed the complainant’s assertion that the test-tube packaging was irresponsible and considered that there were other products on the market that were more open to criticism in this regard.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel asked the Portman Group to commission independent research into the way in which consumers tended to drink products in test-tube containers and their perceptions of such products.
The Panel noted from the research that it was highly likely that a test-tube drink would be consumed ‘down-in-one’ by the drinker. It also noted, however, that only a minority of drinkers cited the test-tube design as the cause of this drinking behaviour; drinkers were more likely to claim that they drank the product ‘down-in-one’ because of the small volume of liquid in the test-tube. The Panel also noted the company’s arguments. The Panel acknowledged it had previously made decisions that implied a drink in a test-tube container would inevitably breach the Code for urging ‘down-in-one’ consumption (see 2009 decisions on Rampant and Mwaah!). In light of the fresh arguments and evidence that had been made available, however, and considering the relatively small quantity of alcohol contained in each test-tube, the Panel considered that this product was unlikely to cause harmful drinking behaviour and did not breach the spirit of Code in terms of urging ’down-in-one’ consumption. Accordingly, the Panel did not find the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(g).
The Panel acknowledged that, in view of the low volume of alcohol in each container, the product’s packaging could not be said to be encouraging immoderate consumption. Accordingly, the Panel did not find the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f).
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