Complaint against ‘Suicyder’ brand upheld

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Irresponsible branding: alcohol watchdog the Portman Group ruled the Bearded Brewery cider breached its code
Irresponsible branding: alcohol watchdog the Portman Group ruled the Bearded Brewery cider breached its code

Related tags: Cider, Portman group, Marketing

Alcohol watchdog the Portman Group has upheld a complaint about a cider for its ‘direct link to suicide, alcohol and dangerous behaviour’.

The Bearded Brewery’s Suicyder variant broke the code because its name and imagery was agreed to make “a clear association between their cider and the act of committing suicide”.

A member of the public complained about the drink from the brewery based in St Mawgan, Cornwall.

In their complaint, they expressed concern about images of a rope with a noose and the strapline “juice from the noose”.

The name was to indicate the alcohol strength of the product (7.8% ABV) and to encourage consumers to drink responsibly, the brewery said.

Highly irresponsible 

It argued that ‘suicide’ was a word used in the branding of other UK ciders, noting that 244 beers, ciders and breweries used the name internationally.

It also said the noose references reflected the owner’s previous career at the Forestry Commission where a noose was used to dismantle unsafe trees.

However, the panel said consumers may not know this additional information before seeing the imagery.

It said it was highly irresponsible to depict death by hanging in such an obvious way, combined with the name of the product.

The product was agreed to have broken a clause in the group’s code, which reads: “A drink, its packaging or promotion should not suggest any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous, antisocial or illegal behaviour.”

Reminder of responsibilities 

The brewery chose not to work with the group’s advisory service to amend the product in line with the ruling.

A retailer alert bulletin (RAB) has been issued, whereby if a retailer continues to stock a product found in breach of the code, the licensing authority may be notified.

A Portman Group spokesperson said other drinks producers should take the ruling as a reminder of their responsibilities with design.

They said: “The panel felt it was wholly inappropriate to link a product’s name and imagery to the tragic act of suicide.

“I hope this reminds producers of their responsibilities when designing packaging and naming products.

"If in doubt, producers are encouraged to make use of our free advisory service to avoid problems before they arise.”

Otter Brewery discontinued a cider called ‘Suicider’ after it was called insensitive at a music festival last year.

Related topics: Cider

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