Mikkeller’s forced to redesign one of its beers

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Childish illustration: complaint against Mikkeller’s Side Eyes pale ale upheld
Childish illustration: complaint against Mikkeller’s Side Eyes pale ale upheld

Related tags Beer Drinks Metropolitan police Branding + marketing

A complaint made by the Metropolitan Police against artwork for a pale ale, which was upheld by the alcohol industry’s Independent Complaints Panel, has resulted in a redesign for one beer.

The complaint against Mikkeller’s Side Eyes Pale Ale was upheld under rule 3.2, which states a drink, its packaging or promotion should not have a particular appeal to under-18s but was not upheld under rule 3.1, which states the alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity 

As Mikkeller’s Side Eyes Pale Ale 4.6% ABV alongside the words ‘pale ale’ were apparent on the packaging, the panel ruled its alcoholic nature was clearly communicated, however, the panel considered the artwork on the can to be cartoon-like and reminiscent of Minecraft​, which, alongside the inclusion of more than one character, contributed to the overall impression the illustration was childish in its appearance. 

Preventing the appeal of alcohol to minors 

The complainant said: “The Metropolitan Police are pleased with the outcome of the Portman Group’s investigation, we hope by taking this type of action, and by working in partnership with the Portman Group we can help prevent the appeal of alcohol to under 18s.”

The Portman Group was formed in 1989 and is the alcohol industry regulator and social responsibility body, it has over 130 Code signatories from producers, retailers, and membership bodies and the Code of Practice for the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks was first published in 1996.

Independent Complaints Panel chair Nicola Williams said: “While innovative design is to be encouraged it is imperative imagery does not have a particular appeal to under-18s.

Due diligence 

“It is 25 years since the Code of Practice was adopted by the sector, and from the outset at its core is the principal alcohol should only appeal to adults, which is why it is incumbent on producers to take the greatest care when innovating with an illustrative style.”

Mikkeller stated in the future it would endeavour to carry out its own internal due diligence and work with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service, when necessary, prior to launching any new products on the market.

A spokesperson for Mikkeller said: “It has of course never been the intention to make Side Eyes appealing to under 18s and Side Eyes has never been targeted at under 18s.

“We have now implemented a re-design of the label so that is clear to all.”

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