The challenges of keeping an edgy and distinctive brand in a crowding market while staying within marketing guidelines have been highlighted through a series of recent marketing issues.
CUB-owned Pirate Life has deleted a series of social media posts this week, after suggestions the brewer was potentially targeting children through its posts. The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme (ABAC) has also made a number of adverse findings against craft breweries for marketing identified as ‘potentially targeting minors’.
Pirate Life was criticised on social media for a post from the recent Beer and BBQ Fest that showed a person who had received a Pirate Life tattoo, together with a child’s hand sporting a Pirate Life logo as a temporary tattoo. The photo was accompanied with the caption, “Shout out to all of the legends, big and small, who continue supporting us! The commitment is real.”
Brews News referred the issue to CUB and a spokesperson issued the following statement.
“We take responsible marketing very seriously and the post has been removed.”
The posts were removed prior to any complaint to ABAC, but other breweries have recently fallen foul of the voluntary code in a series of findings that could have a significant impact on beer-naming trends and marketing.
Last month, Western Australia’s Cheeky Monkey Brewery had a complaint against it upheld by the ABAC Adjudication Panel, over the naming of its Ri-beer-na Berliner Weisse.
An anonymous complaint was received claiming that the beer’s packaging mimics the branding of Ribena – “a drink targeted at children, could be mistaken as Ribena by a child, which is dangerous and has the appearance of a children’s drink”.
Responding to the complaint, Cheeky Monkey pointed out that it was clearly stated, front and centre, in large text that the product is a “beer” and states the ABV in the bottom centre of the can to prevent any confusion.
“Therefore, I believe there to be no strong or evident appeal to minors,” the company said in its response.
The adjudication panel noted that the code “provides that an alcohol marketing communication including product names and packaging must not have strong or evident appeal to minors. Strong or evident appeal might arise if a marketing communication uses imagery designs or motifs that are likely to appeal strongly to minors or that create confusion with confectionary or soft drinks”.
It found that the product name and packaging was in breach of the ABAC standard, noting:
- The product name is clearly a parody of the well-known blackcurrant-based soft drink, Ribena;
- Ribena would generally be regarded by a reasonable person as a drink primarily targeting children;
- The product packaging resembles Ribena in the use of purple colouring and depictions of blackcurrants;
- The product packaging adopts a font style for the name which is identical or very similar to that employed on Ribena products;
- While a reasonable person would likely understand the product to be a tongue in cheek play on the Ribena name the product packaging does create a potential confusion with the children’s drink Ribena; and
- Taken as a whole, the similarity in the packaging’s design, colouring, and use of the font for the name would be taken as having a strong or evident appeal to minors.
With parody advertising an increasing trend among breweries looking for an attention-grabbing label or interesting beer angle, the panel’s
decision potentially causes issues for other breweries.
Social media has recently thrown up a number of other examples that potentially raise similar issues, including Dainton Beer’s Skittle-Brau and Cherry Gripe, brewed in collaboration with Clare Valley Brewing Co.
Dainton Beer’s Dan Dainton told Brews News that he didn’t think there was an issue, but took it seriously.
“It’s one of those things; it’s a beer. It’s sold in liquor stores and isn’t targeted at kids,” he said.
“I’d get it if it was being sold on supermarket shelves, but there is no way we are targeting it towards kids.”
“I’ve got kids and I am well aware of the issues with children and I would hate to see this as being seen as irresponsible.”
While the code is voluntary and has no power to compel changes to marketing to non-signatories, signatories include major retailers Woolworths Liquor Group and an adverse determination against a non-signatory’s beer can see it taken off the shelves or a participating retailer.
It is understood that this saw Melbourne brewery Kaiju change the packaging for their successful Kaiju Krush!
Other breweries to fall foul of the code include Gage Roads, which was found to have included images of minors in a social media post and Lion’s 5 Seeds Cider for including a photo of a person under 25 in their social media post.