Company: The Magic Bru Company Ltd
Final Decision: 27 February 2004
Considered under the 3rd Edition of the Code.
The drink claims to contain a blend of Super Energy Extract and 2 shots of vodka. The alcoholic strength is used on the bottle as a key selling point.
The brand name of the drink is ‘SEX’ which is a wholly inappropriate name for an alcoholic drink…and highly suggestive of sexual success.
The drink claims to offer you energy…suggesting enhance (sic) physical capabilities.”
Alcohol Focus Scotland
Under Code paragraph 3.2(a)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way have the alcoholic strength, relatively high alcohol content, or the intoxicating effect, as a dominant theme.
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(i)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest that the product can enhance mental or physical capabilities.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel first considered whether the alcoholic strength of the product was the dominant theme of its packaging. It agreed with the producers’ arguments that although the product label informed consumers that it was 5% abv and contained two shots of vodka, the packaging did not make the product’s alcoholic strength the dominant theme. Hence, the Panel found that the product did not breach Code paragraph 3.2(a).
The Panel then considered whether the brand name suggested an association with sexual success. It noted the producers’ clarification that the product was called ‘V’, not ‘SEX V2’ as the complainants believed. The Panel also noted the producers’ argument that the letters SEX on the neck of the bottle were short for Super Energy Extract, a caffeine and taurine based drink that they had mixed with vodka to create ‘V’. 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 Code paragraph 3.2(d) was designed to prevent such marketing approaches. The Panel concluded that the letters SEX on the bottle neck and highlighted in the full reference on the side of the bottle suggested an association with sexual success. Hence, the Panel found the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(d).
Finally, the Panel noted the producers’ arguments that the product did not claim that to offer consumers energy and that ‘Super Energy Extract’ was merely a reference to the separately branded product containing caffeine and taurine that was part of V. The Panel nevertheless considered that the word ‘energy’ suggested that the product could enhance the mental and/or physical capabilities of the consumer. Hence, the Panel upheld the complaint under paragraph 3.2(i) of the Code.