The complaint raised concerns that the alcoholic nature of the drink was not communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity under Code rule 3.1, in particular that a ‘zero-like’ figure on the front of the packaging may cause consumers to mistake the beer for an alcohol-free product.
The panel considered whether the figure on the front label could cause consumer confusion as to the drink’s alcoholic nature but noted the character was a square, presented as a Kanji character in a wider Japanese context, rather than a circle and therefore considered that the majority of consumers would be unlikely to mistake it as a reference to a drink containing zero alcohol.
Positive alcohol cues
The panel also assessed the front and back label of the drink and noted that there were several instances of positive alcohol cues on the front label.
This included references to ‘beer’ and ‘brewing’ several times. The panel considered the back label and observed further positive alcohol cues such as the word ‘beer’, a responsible drinking message, unit content information and the drink’s alcoholic strength by volume (ABV).
After assessing the packaging in its entirety, the panel considered the product sufficiently communicated its alcoholic nature with absolute clarity and accordingly, did not uphold the complaint.
Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, Rachel Childs, said: “While the panel expressed a degree of sympathy regarding the potential for confusion between alcoholic and non-alcoholic products that share the same branding, in this case they concluded the product communicated its alcoholic nature with absolute clarity due to a number of positive alcohol cues and as a result did not uphold the complaint.”
The Portman Group was formed in 1989 and is the alcohol industry regulator and social responsibility body.
It is funded by 19 member and associate member companies: Asahi UK, Aston Manor Cider, Bacardi, Beam Suntory, Brown-Forman, Budweiser Brewing Group UK&I, Campari, C&C, Diageo GB, Edrington UK, Heineken UK, Mark Anthony Brands International, Mast-Jäegermeister UK, Molson Coors Beverage Company, Pernod Ricard UK, Punch Pubs & Co, SHS Drinks, Thatchers and Treasury Wine Estates.