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Company: Inver House Distillers Ltd
Breach: Yes
Final Decision: 27 February 2006

Considered under the 3rd Edition of the Code.

Complaint summary

“We believe that Wee Beastie and Big Beastie contravene TPG code, particularly in terms of packaging and the content and style of the website. They use childish images of dancing and laughing spiders and we feel it is designed to have specific appeal to under 18s.”

Complainant

The Wine & Spirit Trade Association

Decision

Under Code paragraph 3.2(g)

A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way have a particular appeal to under-18s.

UPHELD

The Panel’s assessment

The producers said that the brand had been on the market for five years without complaint and that they understood that the original brand owners had liaised with The Portman Group Advisory Service on the final design. They said that the product was never designed to appeal to under 18s and that 95% of stocks were sold only through large, responsible off-trade retailers. The producers pointed out that they had recently decided to take down the brand website due to the low number of hits it received.

The Panel firstly noted that the Advisory Service had no record of having given advice on the brand design.  The Panel was concerned that the grinning spider imagery, which featured prominently on the packaging of both products and on the website, was both cartoon-like and childlike. It was also concerned that the prominent warning on the front of both products “Strictly for over 18s ADULTS ONLY Strictly for over 18s” was likely to attract the attention of under 18s in particular and make the products attractive to them.  The Panel concluded that the combination of the garish pink and yellow colours, the cartoon- style grinning spider and the “Adults Only” warning meant that overall, both products and the brand website were likely to have a particular appeal to under 18s in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(g).

Action by company

The Panel noted that the producers had taken down the brand website and it welcomed the fact that they were liaising with the Advisory Service for guidance on amending the products’ packaging to comply with the decision.