A complaint about Slingshots has been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel.) A copy of the full decision can be read here.

The complainant, a member of the public, believed that the product encouraged irresponsible drinking and was aimed at an under-18’s audience. The complaint was upheld under Code rule 3.2(g), which states that 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 Panel considered the product name ‘Slingshots’ in the context of shot-style packaging and found that the name had strong connotations with a ‘slinging it down’ style of consumption. The Panel acknowledged that each shot glass contained a small amount of alcohol (half a unit) and was unlikely to cause harmful drinking behaviour, giving further consideration to the company’s point that the product was designed to be sipped from one side at a time.  However, the Panel noted that there was nothing on the product label which encouraged a ‘sip and enjoy’ style of consumption and concluded that the product name, in combination with shot style packaging, urged the consumer to down the product in one and accordingly upheld the product under Code rule 3.2(g).

The complaint regarding appeal to under-18s (3.2h) and immoderate consumption (3.2f) were not upheld because the packaging contained nothing that the Panel judged would overtly appeal to children, and each shot contained a small amount of alcohol.

The Panel also noted that while advice had been sought from the Portman Group’s Advisory Service by the producer, not all of it had been followed.

John Timothy, Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, commented:

“Producers need to be mindful of the cues they are giving consumers, both through the product name and packaging design. These cannot be seen to encourage rapid consumption without running the risk of breaching the Code. We offer a free, confidential advisory service to help producers stay on the right side of the line.”

A spokesperson for Global Beverage Brands said: “We have continued to take all feedback on board from the Portman Group and the brand name will be changed accordingly for all future production runs.”