Complaint against BrewDog beer not upheld

By Rebecca Weller

- Last updated on GMT

Code of practice: complaint against BrewDog Wingman not upheld by Portman Group
Code of practice: complaint against BrewDog Wingman not upheld by Portman Group

Related tags Brewdog Beer Portman group Branding + marketing

A complaint against BrewDog’s Wingman beer has not been upheld by the alcohol industry’s Independent Complaint Panel (ICP).

The complaint, received from a member of the public, raised concerns over the beer’s anthropomorphic cartoon style packaging under Code rule 3.2(h), which states a product should not have a particular appeal to under-18’s.

However, the complaint was not upheld by the panel as the anthropomorphised bird on the front of the can was found to have a “stern, unfriendly expression that contrasted with anthropomorphised animals which usually appear in children’s media”.

Code of practice 

The Panel also noted while some cartoon animals could appeal to under-18’s, the character design was complex, with the bird dressed as a military pilot alongside elements such as facial tattoos, which ensured the character appeared more adult in nature.

After assessing the packaging in its entirety, the panel considered while the style was cartoon-like and the character was the dominant theme, on balance, the design was retro in style, mature and reasonably complex, therefore not constituting a particular appeal to under-18’s.

The Panel also considered the product under three other code rules, including whether the product communicated its alcoholic nature with absolute clarity, but again found no breach of the code.

ICP chair Rachel Childs said: “It’s absolutely vital under the code of practice that producers take care to ensure their alcohol products don’t have particular appeal to under-18s. 

Overall impression 

“In this case, while the packaging was cartoon-like and the character was the dominant theme, it was clear from the overall impression of the product that it did not have a particular appeal to children.”

Wingman was first introduced ​in October last year, with the 4.3% ABV session IPA described by BrewDog as "boasting grassy hops with tropical notes of pineapple and lime".

Earlier this month, figures from the Portman Group’s sixth annual survey​ in partnership with YouGov found the number of people aged 18-24 regularly drinking alternatives to alcohol in the UK had increased by 13 percentage points during the past two years.

Meanwhile BrewDog came under fire last week for its decision to scrap​ the Real Living Wage for new employees, sparking a petition from industry union Unite Hospitality​.

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