Absolut London not targeted at U18s
Absolut London, a campaign for Absolut Vodka featuring designs by Jamie Hewlett does not have a particular appeal to under-18s according to the latest ruling by the Independent Complaints Panel for alcohol marketing.
Absolut, owned by Pernod Ricard UK, partnered with Jamie Hewlett (a London-based creative artist best known for his collaboration with Damon Albarn to create the band Gorillaz) to develop a bottle design to highlight London’s style and fashion pioneers over the last 200 years.
Alcohol Concern lodged the complaint because it considered that the campaign centred on a series of cartoon characters in graphic novel style which would have a strong niche appeal amongst under-18s.
Pernod Ricard said it had worked closely with the artist in developing the characters to ensure the imagery was compliant with its own marketing code and the Portman Group Code of Practice. The company had modified some of the images to avoid any suggestion that the characters could be viewed as being under 25 years of age or could be interpreted as appealing to underage drinkers.
The Panel, chaired by Sir Richard Tilt, considered that although the images were in an illustrative style it did not automatically mean they would appeal to under-18s. The Panel was not convinced that the band Gorillaz did appeal particularly to under-18s nor did they find any direct link being made between the band and the product.
The Panel noted that the artist had chosen to feature characters that were based on London fashion over the ages. The Panel felt, however, not everyone would make that connection. Nonetheless, the Panel acknowledged that because the characters were historical, based on a broad age range, and so closely associated with London fashion, that the characters would not resonate particularly with under-18s. Accordingly, the Panel did not find the promotion in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(h)
The Panel also considered whether the alcoholic nature of the product was communicated with absolute clarity. They considered that while the word ‘vodka’ featured on the crest on the neck of the bottle and the ABV statement featured at the bottom of the bottle, the clarity of the two references could be improved upon. The Panel concluded that, whilst the company could have taken more care with the alcohol messaging, it was clear that the product was alcohol and therefore did not find the product in breach of Code paragraph 3.1.
Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, which provides the secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said:
“There are strict rules preventing alcohol from being marketed at children and we thank the people who take the time to complain about campaigns they think are inappropriate. The Panel has ruled that Absolut London has not broken responsibility rules and the company worked to ensure that the characters did not appear to be under 25. We advise all producers to be vigilant in developing campaigns and in conveying the alcoholic nature of their products and to contact the Portman Group for pre-launch advice at the earliest stage.”
The Panel ruled that no action will be required from the company.
A copy of the full decision can be downloaded from the Portman Group’s website http://www.portmangroup.org.uk/?pid=25&level=2&bid=260