Vitesse Noir breaks alcohol marketing rules
A beer called Vitesse Noir has breached alcohol responsibility rules for making claims about the stimulating effects of the product on its packaging.
A member of the public submitted the complaint about Vitesse Noir which is brewed by Hardknott Brewery.
The company explained that Vitesse Noir was recommended to be consumed as a digestif and asserted that if the label was read in context, it would be clear that this was the case. The company also believed that it was the word ‘tonic’ which the complainant had used as the basis of the complaint. It went on to point out that pre-packaged ‘gin and tonic’ was available in supermarkets and that some producers cited ‘gin and tonic’ as a refreshing pick-me-up.
The Independents Complaints Panel considered the text on the product label, and concluded that certain text: “this beer is so packed full of beans it could have you dancing on the ceiling”, sought to imply that Vitesse Noir could affect physical capabilities. This was further supported by accompanying text on the label which read: “just when you are not sure you can manage the last dance, take a nip and it’ll be just the tonic that you needed”.
Furthermore, the Panel considered it was disingenuous to suggest the interpretation of ‘tonic’, as used on the label of Vitesse Noir, was used in the same way as it was in ‘gin and tonic’: the former implying that Vitesse Noir had energising capabilities.
The Panel concluded that the whole basis of the marketing for Vitesse Noir was as a stimulant and found the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(j).
Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, which provides the secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said:
“There is a tough self-regulatory Code in the UK which stops alcohol being marketed as a stimulant or from making claims about its physical or mental effects. These rules certainly aren’t here to stop humour or innovation but to show that the alcohol industry can market its products responsibly and producers must exercise careful judgement in this area.”
A Retailer Alert Bulletin has been issued which instructs licensees and retailers not to place orders for Vitesse Noir with this labelling after 1 June 2012. The company, in consultation with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service, has agreed revised packaging for the product.
Rulings made by the Panel are published in full on the Code Complaints page.