Complaint Summary: Tokyo* has been widely promoted by BrewDog as the ‘UK’s strongest beer at 18.2% abv’. Their press release states: ‘The brewery, which caused public outcry from health campaigners when it launched Tokyo last year at 12% has brewed Tokyo* at a stronger ABV level…’
And the company’s website (www.brewdog.com) says about Tokyo: ‘Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time, [sic] have excess. This beer is for those times.’ It is the view of Alcohol Focus Scotland that this product does not promote a positive message of safe and responsible drinking and clearly breaches the Portman Group’s Code of Practice.”
Alcohol Focus Scotland
“I object to the part on the label text [‘Everything in moderation etc’] which actively encourages people to drink to ‘excess’ and binge drink on this beer. This is highly irresponsible for any beer, especially so for a beer of this strength.
I also feel ‘intergalactic fantastic’ points towards hallucinogenic qualities.”
Member of the public
Complainant: Alcohol Focus Scotland; member of the public
Decision: Under Code paragraph 3.2(a); 3.2(c) NOT UPHELD
Under Code paragraph 3.2(f) UPHELD
The company did not respond to the complaint.
The Panel noted that the Code did not seek to prohibit products simply on the basis of their alcoholic strength; instead, it sought to prevent companies from irresponsibly using strength as the primary basis of a product’s promotion. The Panel considered that the product’s packaging did not unduly emphasise its strength. Accordingly, it did not find the product’s packaging in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(a).
The Panel considered that the expression “intergalactic fantastic” was unlikely to be seen as alluding to illegal drugs or their effects. Accordingly, it did not find the product’s packaging in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(c).
The Panel noted, however, that the bottle label featured the statement: “Everything in moderation, including moderation itself. What logically follows is that you must, from time, [sic] have excess. This beer is for those times.” The Panel considered that this was advocating excessive consumption and furthermore considered that this was particularly unwise in the context of a product that contained six units of alcohol in a single 330ml bottle. Accordingly, it found the product’s packaging in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f)
Action by Company: The company agreed to amend the packaging in consultation with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service.
3.2(a); 3.2(c); 3.2(f)