Complaint Summary: “The name ‘Speedball’ is entirely inappropriate for an alcoholic drink as it is the name given to the extremely dangerous practice of combining heroin and crack cocaine to provide both a stimulant and sedative effect.
The product’s label describes the drink as a ‘class A ale’ – another clear reference to illicit drugs. The company’s website (www.brewdog.com) goes on to use terms like ‘up-down’ and ‘happy-sad’ and the beer contains ‘a vicious cocktail of active ingredients’.”
Complainant: Alcohol Focus Scotland
Decision: Under Code paragraph 3.2(c) UPHELD
Under Code paragraph 3.2(f) and 3.2(j) NOT UPHELD
The company acknowledged that the name referred to a drug-taking activity but argued that it was appropriate to this product. This was because the product contained mild sedatives and mild stimulants. They maintained that the causes of alcohol and drug misuse were far deeper rooted than product names and suggested that by alluding to drug misuse in this way, they might even highlight this issue and help prevent it.
The Panel considered that the challenged claims clearly sought to present the product as akin to an illicit and dangerous drug. It believed this encouraged people to drink the product primarily for its psychoactive properties and considered this approach to be grossly irresponsible. It was concerned that the blurring of alcohol and illicit drugs in this way not only fostered inappropriate attitudes to drinking but furthermore trivialised drug misuse. It found the product’s name, packaging and website in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(c).
The Panel considered that while the packaging and website were clearly in breach of the Code as stated above, the challenged claims did not necessarily encourage immoderate consumption nor suggest that the product would enhance mental or physical performance (though it clearly implied that the former would be affected). Accordingly, the Panel did not find the product’s packaging or website to be in breach of Code paragraphs 3.2(f) or 3.2(j).
Action by Company: The company said they would change the name of the product to Dogma.
Code Paragraphs: Under Code paragraphs 3.2(c) 3.2(f) and 3.2(j)