Complaints about One Drop Brewing Company and Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Nitro Milkshake IPA have been upheld by ABAC.
Whilst complainants are usually anonymous, anti-alcohol lobby group the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education announced publicly in an unusual move last month that it would be making a complaint about the beer.
The complaints concerned both the packaging and product name of the Kellogg’s Corn Flakes Nitro Milkshake IPA.
Two complainants said that the packaging could appeal minors due to the milkshake and cornflakes references on the packaging, whilst the other suggested that Kellogg’s as a brand is advertised to children, toddlers and mothers.
They said that they were concerned that “Kelloggs’ association with a high alcohol beer and milkshake contents is entirely inappropriate as clearly it is appealing to minors”.
One Drop Brewing Company said in its response that whilst it did not pre-vet the packaging, it was reviewed internally to ensure it met “regulatory and self-regulatory obligations”,and that it ensures its own advertising spend on digital platforms is targeted at those ages 18 and over.
The NSW brewery said that the packaging theme was a tropical sunset, in keeping with its own reggae music-themed branding, and that the style, imagery and colours are “not particularly child-like and are designed to appeal to adults”.
It said that Kellogg’s has been selling its Corn Flakes for 90 years and it is not a product targeted at or primarily consumed by minors, quoting research that showed that the majority of Corn Flakes consumers are adult – allegedly 75 per cent, it said.
It said that ‘Milkshake’ was a widely used term in the beer industry that emphasises its lactose content, and the flavour profile of the beer.
One Drop asserted that the packaging makes it clear that it is an alcoholic beverage, with a prominent abv, emphasis on the word ‘brewing’ and the use of the acronym IPA, which it said was well known to be a style of beer – something that ABAC has refuted in the past.
It said that all the Facebook posts which were mentioned by the complainants, including Broadsheet Sydney, the Crafty Pint and Delicious.com.au are aimed at adults.
It also mentioned that the product was only available for a limited time at its venue in Botany, Dan Murphy’s, and smaller local bottleshops, and is now sold out in cans.
ABAC responded to the complaints process saying that it was not there to judge whether Kellogg’s should or should not be lending it product to an alcoholic beverage.
The ABAC panel said that while it was not a research body, it was forced to reach conclusions about the appeal of Kellogg’s Corn Flakes and milkshakes to under 18 year olds and then extrapolate this to the appeal of the product packaging to minors”.
It said that Australian Bureau of Statistics data showed that cornflakes and milkshakes are consumed extensively by under 18 year olds, contradicting the research commissioned by Kellogg’s and cited by One Drop in relation to the demographics of Corn Flakes consumers.
Taking the packaging as a whole, and keeping in mind that an average consumer may not pick up a can and examine it in fine detail, ABAC said there was a strong and direct association made with cornflakes, links which are more prominent than indications of it as a style of beer.
It said the milkshake references blur this line further, and could create confusion with a soft or non-alcoholic drink like milk.
It highlighted One Drop’s collaboration with the process, despite not being a signatory of the code, but said that taken as a whole, a reasonable person would likely believe the packaging has a strong or evident appeal to minors, and upheld the complaints.
One Drop and Kellogg’s were contacted but had not responded by the time of publication.