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September 17, 2020

Portman Group dismisses complaints against “cartoon” alcohol brands

The UK's alcohol advertising watchdog has ruled in favour of two producers accused of using cartoon-like imagery that could appeal to children.

By Patrick Scott

The UK’s alcohol advertising watchdog has ruled in favour of two producers accused of using cartoon-like imagery that could appeal to children.

The Portman Group today said it has not upheld complaints against Frosty Jack’s Cider, owned by Aston Manor, and Hammerton Brewery’s Buoyancy Aid craft beer. In rulings on two separate complaints, the Portman Group said imagery on both brands did not breach rules against targetting under-18s. 

Frosty Jack’s is a 7.5%-abv cider sold in 2.5-litre bottles and 50cl cans. The complaint against the brand highlighted the product’s apple imagery and link to children’s character Jack Frost. Defending its brand, Aston Manor said the claims were not merited.

The company also argued that the white cider category as a whole “receives undue attention that is not informed by data or appropriate context and opinions can be skewed as a consequence”.

The 4.3%-abv Buoyancy Aid is a tropical-style Gose beer brewed by London’s Hammerton Brewery. The packaging features Pac-man-like cartoon creatures. Hammerton dismissed the suggestion that the beer appealed to under-18s, as well as a further complaint that the imagery suggested a link between swimming and drinking.

“Nobody who saw it would believe the product helped your swim or promoted drinking and swimming,” Hammerton said.

The Portman Group is an alcohol-industry-funded group that enforces a voluntary code on responsible marketing. In December, UK craft brewer Tiny Rebel said the group’s code of practice “isn’t fit for the craft beer industry” after one of its brands was ruled to have breached regulations.

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