Company: Spencers Drinks Ltd
Final Decision: 26 March 2004
Considered under the 3rd Edition of the Code.
“1. the product’s vivid colours will attract children; 2. the various names used are of, or relating to, a sexual nature, such as ‘Blow Job’, 3. Sex on the Beach’ the tube seals can be easily opened by children”.
– Freaky Products (UK) Ltd
“I was very shocked to find brightly coloured drinks, which are obviously targeted at underage drinkers, with sexually explicit names such as Orgasm, Blow Job, Foreplay and Sex on the Beach.”
– Member of the public, Bristol
Freaky Products (UK) Ltd
Member of the public, Bristol.
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 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 the product’s alcoholic nature was communicated with absolute clarity on its packaging. It noted that the individual test tube shaped containers displayed the product’s strength as ‘ABV 16%’ and the descriptor ‘X Flavour Vodka Shot’ but was concerned that when the product was picked up so that the flavour name could be read these references could not be seen. The Panel therefore concluded that the alcoholic nature of the product was not clearly communicated and hence found the product’s packaging in breach of Code paragraph 3.1.
The Panel then considered whether the names of the flavour variants submitted by the complainants, ‘Blow Job’, ‘Foreplay’, ‘Orgasm’ and ‘Sex on the Beach’, suggested an association with sexual success. It noted the producers’ argument that the range was based on well known cocktail recipes that were available in books and on the internet and which could be mixed to order in many bars. The Panel considered that in view of alcohol’s potential to impair judgement and affect behaviour, to link alcohol and sexual activity in a drink’s name was undesirable because it might encourage excessive consumption as well as encourage and/or trivialise potentially harmful attitudes and behaviour. It considered that paragraph 3.2(d) of the Code was designed to prevent such marketing approaches and concluded that the flavour names ‘Blow Job’, ‘Foreplay’, ‘Orgasm’ and ‘Sex on the Beach’ contained either a direct or indirect association with sexual success in breach of this paragraph.
The Panel finally considered whether the product had a particular appeal to under 18s. It noted the producers’ argument that the product was intended for sale only in the controlled environment of the on-trade and that although almost any seal could be opened by children, their product had a tamper-evident device.
The Panel noted that the product was not intended for sale through the off-trade but considered that once it had been sold to a third party the producers could not guarantee this. Furthermore the Panel considered that even if the product were available only through the on-trade, it could still be seen by, and appeal to, under 18s. The Panel 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 in breach of Code paragraph 3.1(g).
Action by company
The company agreed to consult The Portman Group’s Advisory Service for guidance on amending the packaging and changing the problematic flavour names to comply with the Code.