Company: Chase Distillery Ltd
Final Decision: 11 December 2014
Considered under the 4th Edition of the Code.
“I submit that Willy’s is not in compliance with the Portman Group’s Packaging Code section 3.2(d) as the name is a clear and well known reference to male sexual organs. Precedent has been set by the Portman Group for upholding complaints about Stiffy’s and Rampant brand names.
I would further submit that reference to Wonky Barn and the use of the cartoon character on the label design also infringes the Portman Group’s Code section 3.2(h&i) in that it could appeal to children either through allusion to Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory.”
A member of the public
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(h)
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.
Under Code paragraph 3.2(i)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way incorporate images of people who are, or look as if they are, under twenty-five years of age, unless there is no suggestion that they have just consumed, are consuming or are about to consumer alcohol.
The company’s submission
The producer began by explaining the heritage behind the company and the Willy’s brand: small family farming business growing and fermenting cider apples and potatoes into cider and spirits sold to independents and high quality on and off-trade retailers.
The producer made the following points in defence of Willy’s Cider:
- The producer was upset and offended that there was a clear reference made to the name of the founder, William Chase, as a male sexual organ.
- The producer had been using ‘Willy the Farmer’, in the ‘Wonky Barn’ since 1982. The Wonky Barn was a reference to where the cider was first produced and is the founder’s home.
- The producer found the reference to ‘Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory’ ridiculous and offensive: its products were in no way designed to appeal to children; they are premium in nature both in terms of product quality and pricing.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel noted the producer’s response. In particular, it noted that the founder was named William and that the cider had been named after him. It also noted that there was nothing on the packaging that played to any sexual connotation. In light of this, the Panel concluded that the product did not breach Code rule 3.2(d).
The Panel then went on to consider whether the product had a particular appeal to under-18s or incorporated images of people who were or looked under-25, with particular focus on the ‘cartoon-like’ image and reference to ‘Wonky Barn’. The Panel noted that the label did feature a small cartoon-like image of a farmer, but that the image far from dominated the front label; the product name and alcohol type stood out as the main messages so much so that it would be easy to overlook the image of the farmer altogether. The Panel also noted that the words ‘Wonky Barn’ did not feature prominently on the front label and, nonetheless, this did nothing to create an association with ‘Willy Wonka’s Chocolate’ factory as claimed by the complainant. In light of this, the Panel concluded that the product did not breach Code paragraphs 3.2(h) or 3.2(i).
Action by company
No action required.