How many complaints do you think it would take to make a product change its packaging? 100? 1,000? 100,000 – like a Parliamentary petition?
The answer is just one, apparently, after alcohol industry regulator the Portman Group concluded that Cwtch, a Welsh red pale ale from the Newport-based Tiny Rebel Brewing Company, fell short of its code.
The brightly coloured can depicts discarded graffiti cans and a drunken teddy bear slumped on the floor.
The cans also feature the words ‘Brewed… at Tiny Rebel Brewing Company’, the ABV strength, the word ‘beer’ in 16 different languages and ‘Welsh Red Ale’ slapped in the middle of it, but that wasn’t enough to deter one shopper from complaining:
“At first I thought it to be a can of fizzy pop. This is actually alcohol? In a 330ml can? Surely this packaging is targeting the wrong age group? Concerning that young children would give this to their parents to buy who wouldn’t necessarily take a second look?”
The complaint was upheld and Tiny Rebel claims it incurred costs of £30,000 and five months’ work to change the label – tasked by the Portman Group to create a label that appeals to 18-year-olds while being uninteresting to a 17-year-old.
It’s the last line of that complaint that troubles me. It’s not the parent’s fault for not being careful, or for not keeping an eye on their child and keeping them away from the alcohol section, it’s the brand’s – and by extension the retailer who chose to stock it.
This mentality is not going away and is one that will continue to set new precedents in 2018. You need to make sure you are retailing alcohol responsibly, by merchandising it away from any areas that appeal directly to children, refusing sale to drunk customers and always checking ID.
If we do not make sure we are walking the straight and narrow voluntarily, then further legislation might be around the corner to force us to.