Company: Pinsight Financial Services Ltd
Final Decision: 21 November 2003
Considered under the 3rd Edition of the Code.
“…its packaging contravenes the Portman Group Code of Practice 3.2(d) in suggesting an association with sexual success.”
Under Code paragraph 3.1
The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity.
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(f)
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way encourage illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as binge-drinking, drunkenness or drink-driving.
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.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel noted that the label tagged on to the product featured the descriptor ‘cream liqueur’ and that its reverse stated that the product’s strength was 15% abv. It considered, however, that these references were not sufficiently prominent to communicate with absolute clarity the alcoholic nature of the product. It also noted that the container itself featured no reference to the product’s alcoholic nature. Hence, the Panel found the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.1.
The Panel noted the importers’ arguments that although the shape of the product’s packaging had a sexual reference, both it and the phrase on the label ‘Keep ‘em coming’, were intended to be humorous and did not suggest sexual success. The Panel considered that the product’s sperm-shaped packaging in particular but also the label claim ‘Keep ‘em coming’ linked the product with sexual activity. In view of alcohol’s potential to impair judgement and affect behaviour, it considered that such an approach was undesirable. The Panel therefore concluded that the product was in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(d).
The importers argued that the product’s labelling and packaging did not encourage binge-drinking or immoderate consumption because the containers held only 20ml and the label claim ‘Keep ‘em coming’ was intended to be a humorous sexual double entendre, not an encouragement to binge drink. The Panel was concerned, however, that the reference ‘Keep ‘em coming’ was likely to encourage irresponsible or immoderate consumption such as binge-drinking or drunkenness. Hence, the Panel found the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f).
The importers asserted that cream liqueurs were an acquired taste and that the product therefore would not appeal to under 18s. They also believed that the product’s sexual references were mild and humorous and no more likely to appeal to under 18s than to adults. The Panel was concerned that the novelty sperm character container and cartoon-style illustration of a sperm on the label had a particular appeal to under 18s. Hence, the Panel found the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(g).