Ex-Formula One racing star’s beer label upsets Portman Group

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Ex-Formula One racing star’s beer label upsets Portman Group

Ex-Formula One racing star’s beer label upsets Portman Group
October 31
11:11 2012

A small-scale brewery owned by former Formula One driver Jody Scheckter has breached alcohol responsibility rules for using a drawing with particular appeal to young children to market alcoholic drinks


According to alcohol industry watchdog Portman Group, a member of the public submitted the complaint as they were concerned that the childish nature of the drawing and the colouring of the product labels and logo could be confusing and likely to appeal to under 18s.

Laverstoke Park Farm said that the generic brand image of a farmer, ‘Mr Laverstoke’, was used on all its products. The beer label was designed by Scheckter’s son.

It did not consider that the lager and ale labels would have a particular appeal to under 18s and felt that, taken in combination, the colour, language and layout of the label created an adult, joyful and honest feel to the products and represented its key message of ethical food production, according to the Portman Group.

Appealing to under 18s

The Independents Complaints Panel (ICP) acknowledged that the company had not deliberately set out to make its alcoholic products appeal to under 18s. However, the Panel ruled that whilst the image of ‘Mr Laverstoke’ was acceptable on the non-alcoholic range of products, including organic apple juice, it was not appropriate for use on their alcoholic products and it could cause confusion for the consumer. The Panel felt that the image whilst unlikely to appeal to older children would be likely to have a particular appeal to younger children.

Accordingly, the Panel found the packaging of both the Lager and Ale in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(h) which prevents alcohol being marketed in a way that could appeal to children.

The Code of Practice

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, which provides the secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said: “Whilst a child’s drawing may be acceptable for marketing organic apple juice it is entirely inappropriate for alcoholic drinks’ labels.

“There are no exceptions to the rule which says that alcohol packaging must not appeal to children, regardless of where a product is being sold.  We understand that producers don’t deliberately set out to break the rules but they must be extra vigilant when it comes to marketing alcohol.  The safest thing to do is contact the Portman Group for advice first before launching a new alcohol range.

“The Code of Practice prevents alcohol being marketed in a way that could particularly appeal to children and these rules must be strictly enforced. No producers are exempt from the rules and it is vital that the whole industry set a precedent of ensuring their products do not appeal to anyone under the age of 18.”

“The big boys”

In response, Scheckter told the Grocer that he would fight the ruling. He said the decision was another example of the industry body, funded by the industry giants, attacking smaller producers.

He told reporters: “The big boys want to show that they are doing something so they go after the small people.”

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