The Portman Group received an ‘unmatched’ number of complaints over Tiny Rebel beers

By Michelle Perrett

- Last updated on GMT

Adhering to the rules: Tiny Rebel said it would continue to work closely with The Portman Group
Adhering to the rules: Tiny Rebel said it would continue to work closely with The Portman Group

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Tiny Rebel Brewery has discontinued four of its beer products – Bump ‘N’ Grind, Cherry Bomb, No Capes and Original Nuttah – after a ruling by the drinks watchdog The Portman Group.

The Portman Group revealed that it had a “unmatched number of complaints and products considered for one company” after it reviewed eight Tiny Rebel products following separate complaints from the Metropolitan Police, Alcohol Focus Scotland and a member of the public.

Tiny Rebel, whose product Cwtch had previously been found to breach the Code in 2017 and 2019, received additional complaints in 2021 against: Bump ‘n’ Grind, Cali Pale, Cherry Bomb, Clwb Tropica (330ml can), Clwb Tropica four pack, Double 99, No Capes and Original Nuttah.

Appeal to under-18s

All eight products attracted complaints that its packaging or promotion should not have a particular appeal to under-18s.  

The panel said it considered each product on its own basis and made a careful assessment of the overall impression conveyed by the packaging in each case.  

Five were found to have a particular appeal to children.  

The panel was especially concerned by designs that featured cartoon characters, made prominent use of Tiny Rebel’s bear logo or were themed around products popular with children such as sweets and 99 ice creams.

It also considered a wide range of other concerns under the code and ruled the name Original Nuttah, in conjunction with the imagery on the can, was likely to be taken as a derogatory reference to mental illness and was likely to cause serious offence. 

It also considered that the product name Bump ‘n’ Grind suggested a direct association with sexual activity.  Its decision on Cherry Bomb reiterates the panel’s view that elements associated with soft drinks, such as fruit or sweetie flavours and cartoon-like illustrations, can overwhelm ‘alcohol’ cues and prevent the product from communicating its alcoholic nature with complete clarity.

Rule breach

In total, six products were found to breach at least one rule while all complaints against two products, Cali Pale and Clwb Tropica’s 330ml can, were not upheld.

Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, Nicola Williams, said: ​“Tiny Rebel’s product range has had problems across a range of areas, but in particular with designs that have a particular appeal to under-18s although this has not been its intention. 

”It is essential that alcoholic products are aimed squarely at adults and clearly communicate their alcoholic nature. Equally importantly is the need to avoid widespread offence, particularly around mental health. We therefore welcome Tiny Rebel’s commitment to work to change the marketing, and to remove problematic products from the market. I very much hope that they will ensure future products adhere to the code.”

Tiny Rebel said: “At Tiny Rebel, we take all consumer complaints very seriously, as well as our wider social responsibility. We build in continuous quality at all levels which includes branding and promoting our beers. We’ll continue to work closely with the Portman Group and are committed to following their guidance. We’re delighted that they have confirmed that our Clwb Tropica IPA and Cali Pale Ale products are both fully compliant.”

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