Company: Gila Brew Co.
Breach: Yes No
Complaint Summary: "I am writing to make a complaint against the drink “Crunk”. The drink is in violation of the Portman Group code.
The name "Crunk" itself in this instance is used to stand for “crazy drunk” which is clearly an attempt to glamorise its alcoholic strength. It further associates the drink with bravado and dangerous anti-social behaviour."
(Member of the public)
"This drink is clearly targeted at young people. It is 12% volume, so over 8 units in a 1 pint can. I have concerns with this product being called ´Juce´ as it is clearly not really juice. The drink is clearly designed to look like an energy drink and is targeted at teenagers. The high alcohol content also means a single can would take someone over their recommended units for the day."
Complainant: Member of the Public
Decision: The company explained that the Crunk brand was created in 2003 in collaboration with a Southern American rap artist who went by the stage name ‘Lil Jon’ and who was one of the founders of the rhythmic style of rap music called Crunk. The company said that the product complied with all regulatory requirements in the U.S; it had always been sold in pint size cans in the U.S and, furthermore, the company had evidence which demonstrated that the product was usually served over ice and shared. The company asserted that the product packaging included the words ‘contains alcohol’ and the ‘ABV’ statement.
The company denied the product made strength or the intoxicating effect of the product a dominant theme, had associations with bravado, dangerous or anti-social behaviour, or whether it had a particular appeal to under-18s. The company referred to the definition and origin of the term crunk as set out in an extract from the online encyclopaedia ‘Wikipedia’. It defined crunk as a style of hip hop music, and also as a term that could be used to mean ‘hyped’ or ‘pumped up’. The company maintained that crunk meant “upbeat, feeling good, better than the rest, related to music, fun”, and that the word was not in common usage in the UK. They said the complainant had seized upon the wrong interpretation of crunk, which was ‘crazy drunk’. The company said there was no evidence from the U.S that the product had a particular appeal to under-18s, nor had it seen any evidence of this in the UK. The company pointed out that the product packaging included the words “We ID” and “No Minors” which further demonstrated that the product was not for under-18s.
The Panel first considered whether the alcoholic nature of the product was sufficiently clear on the product packaging. While acknowledging that the product contained references to the alcoholic nature of the product, the Panel nonetheless considered that in terms of font size and position, significantly greater prominence was given to the non-alcoholic messages such as the flavour name and ‘Juce’ and these messages undermined the clarity of the alcohol messaging. Accordingly, it found the product’s packaging in breach of Code paragraph 3.1.
The Panel then considered whether the strength and intoxicating effect of the product were a dominant theme, whether the product had associations with bravado, dangerous or anti-social behaviour or whether the product had a particular appeal to under-18s. The Panel agreed with the company and accordingly did not find the product’s packaging in breach of Code paragraphs 3.2(a), (b) or (h).
The Panel then considered whether the product packaging encouraged irresponsible or immoderate consumption. The Panel calculated that one can contained 8.4 units, which was more than double the Chief Medical Officers’ sensible drinking guidelines for men. Accordingly, it found the product packaging in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(f).
Finally, the Panel considered whether the product’s packaging suggested that the product could enhance mental or physical capabilities. The Panel acknowledged that it needed to understand the definition of crunk to establish whether it had associations with energy and whether the word was sufficiently in the public domain in the UK. The Panel considered that the word did not have particular significance in the UK and was relatively meaningless. Accordingly, it found the product was not in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(j).
Action by Company: The company is in consultation with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service for guidance on appropriate changes to the product and packaging.
Code Paragraphs: 3.1, 3.2(f)