‘Cartoon branding’ complaint upheld against Beak beers

By Gary Lloyd

- Last updated on GMT

‘Kindergarten’ claim: A member of the public's complaint was upheld against some of Beak Brewery's beers
‘Kindergarten’ claim: A member of the public's complaint was upheld against some of Beak Brewery's beers

Related tags The portman group Beak Brewery Legislation Brewing

A complaint issued against East Sussex-based Beak Brewery has been upheld against the “cartoon branding” on some of its can designs after they were deemed to have “particular appeal” to under-18s.

The alcohol industry’s Independent Complaints Panel (ICP), led by The Portman Group, received a complaint from a member of the public, who expressed concern that the bright, cartoon branding on Beak Brewery products may have particular appeal to under-18s, under code rule 3.2(h).

The ICP considered 10 products under the code in total and upheld complaints against six products (plus a gift pack). The complaint was not upheld against three products.

Beak Brewery, which brews highly regarded craft beers in Lewes, has agreed to make changes to Dest 5% Czech Pils to bring it in line with the code and that the other products, which were limited edition, will not be re-released.

ICP chair Rachel Childs said: “The code of practice is clear that alcoholic drinks and their packaging should not in any direct or indirect way have a particular appeal to under-18s.

“While it was clear the producer did not intend to market the drinks to under-18s, the panel found several products breached the code in this respect following a complaint from a member of the public.

Amendments made

“It’s really positive that the producer in this case has engaged fully with the Portman Group advisory service and agreed to make the necessary amendments to the packaging to bring it in line with the Code.”

A Beak Brewery spokesperson added: “Earlier this year, a member of the public objected to a series of our labels, which they believed could inadvertently appeal to under-18s.

“We were very surprised to hear this as it’s the first such complaint we’ve received in almost a decade of operation.

“Fortunately, just one core beer, Dest Pils, was affected and we’re now working closely with The Portman Group to bring this design in line with the group’s labelling policy.

“Overall, it’s been a positive learning experience for us and we’re looking forward to working more closely with the group’s advisory service over the coming years.”

‘Nursery colours’

The member of the public who complained against Beak’s products said the cartoon branding is in a style that can “far too easily appeal to young children” and its “bright, bold nursery colours wouldn’t look out of place in a kindergarten”.

They added the designs are “very close to several popular children’s author/illustrator/franchises. Dick Bruna (most famous for Miffy​), Jan Pienkowski (most famous for Meg & Mog​) and Roger Hargreaves (Mr Men​)”.

The complaint on the design for core beer Beak Déšť 5% Czech Pils was upheld for being in breach of code 3.2(h), which is: “A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way have a particular appeal to under-18s.”

However, the claim to have broken code 3.1, “The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity” was not upheld.

Meanwhile, complaints under code 3.2 were upheld against limited-edition beers: Beak Frends 8% DIPA, Beak Illu 6.5% IPA, Surps 8% DIPA, Columns 6.5% IPA, Creeks 6.3% Bright IPA and also the Beak Gift Pack but no other codes were found to be breached.

The other beer designs under review were cleared of all alleged breaches. These were for the beers: Hum 4.8% Pale, Beak Nonic 8% DIPA, Beak and the Red Leviathan 6.8% Sour Ale.

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