The Portman Group advisory service ruled that Lost and Grounded’s Running with Sceptres product breached its code for appealing to under-18s.
It upheld a complaint from a member of the public who was concerned about cartoon animals on the can, which were inspired by the children’s book Where the Wild Things Are.
The Bristol-based brewery said it disagreed with the ruling and it would not amend its product following the decision.
Lost and Grounded co-founder Annie Clements said the beer was its second-highest selling product and the result of many years of hard work
She said: “The branding is no different to the multitude of other brands on the market that utilise an artistic style. We operate as a responsible business and would never market products to appeal to under-18s.
“This product is integral to our brand story, and a change to its branding would be costly, and to do this based on a single complaint is simply not practical and has the potential to cause significant financial damage to our small, independent business.”
The ruling comes as many brewers have voiced concerns over the service’s rulings, arguing it is too strict on small businesses.
Bristol East MP Kerry McCarthy backed the brewery by calling for a revision of the decision that would allow the brewery to continue selling the beer.
She said: “It’s hugely unfair that Lost and Grounded, a [national] living wage brewery based in my constituency, can be targeted in such a way, and see one of its most popular products removed from stores as a result of a single complaint.
“Alcohol companies, of course, have a responsibility to sensibly market their products, but this ruling is the result of a misapplication of the rules through a flawed process.”
Appealing to children
The decision means a ‘retailer alert bulletin’ has been issued. This means licensees are asked not to place orders for stocks of the drink with the existing packaging after 3 June 2020.
The chair of the group’s independent complaints panel, Jenny Watson, said: “Lost and Grounded created an engaging can, but unfortunately the panel felt that the prominence of the cartoon animals made it particularly appealing to children.
“We understand that producers want to use creative illustrators and we would encourage all producers to make full use of the Portman Group’s free advisory service before launching a product.”
Another complaint against the brewery’s Keller Pils was not upheld, though a cartoon of an animal rowing a boat on the can made an association with The Wind in the Willows.