Company: Yates Brothers Wine Lodges plc.
Final Decision: 16 July 1997
Considered under the 1st Edition of the Code
“While the word ‘spike‘ has a number of meanings, in the context of alcohol it means to lace someone‘s drink with alcohol, whether a soft drink with alcohol or an alcoholic drink with a shot of spirits to make it stronger. The most common usage of the word in this context relates to lacing a drink illicitly without the knowledge of the person who will drink the stronger concoction. This behaviour is anti–social and can be dangerous (e.g. if that person thinks they are safe to drive).”
Under Code paragraph 2.1(d)
Brand names and product descriptors should not encourage immoderate, illegal or irresponsible consumption such as binge drinking, drunkeness, drink driving, purchase by or sale to under 18s.
Under Code paragraph 2.1(e)
Brand names and product descriptors should not suggest an association with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social imagery or behaviour.
Under Code paragraph 3(2)
The alcoholic strength of the product or its relatively high alcohol content should not be the dominant theme of packaging and point of sale materials.
The Panel noted the following dictionary definitions. ‘SPIKE‘ has the meanings of ‘to add alcohol to (a drink); ‘lace (a drink) with alcohol, a drug etc‘; ‘contaminate (a substance) with something added‘; ‘to adulterate (an intoxicant) ... it may denote the addition of alcohol to a non–alcoholic drink‘. In American slang, the word means a hypodermic needle. The word ‘LACE‘ means ‘add an ingredient to (a drink, dish, substance etc...) to enhance or adulterate flavour, strength, effect etc.? The Panel noted the Company‘s claim that the impression it sought to create with purchasers was something to ‘hit the spot, which was developed by using on the label a concept similar to the metal end of a pike; the Panel also noted that the word ‘PIKE‘ means “an infantry weapon with a pointed steel or iron head on a long wooden shaft‘.
The Panel first considered whether the naming and product descriptor infringes paragraphs 2.1(d) and (e) of the code. The Panel, taking account of the Company‘s submission of 3 June 1997, considered that the common meaning of ‘spike’ is to spice something but that this does not necessarily imply a third party doing so without the consumer‘s knowledge. Moreover, the Panel noted that the image used on the label of a pike is discreet. The Panel took the view that neither the naming nor the product descriptor contravenes those two paragraphs: neither encourages immoderate or irresponsible behaviour or suggests an association with violent, aggressive or anti–social imagery or behaviour; in the Panel‘s view, it would be “stretching it” to ascribe the dictionary meanings to this product‘s name and descriptor.
The Panel considered whether the alcoholic strength of the product could be said to be the dominant theme. The Panel considered that the alcoholic content and strength of the product are clearly shown on the packaging but not in such a way as to be a dominant theme. The Panel considered that the packaging does not therefore infringe paragraph 3(2) of the Code
The Panel, therefore, did not uphold this complaint.
Action by company
No action required.