Grocery retailer Asda has been criticised by the Portman Group, the drinks industry’s self-regulatory body, for selling a gift pack containing a teddy bear and an alcoholic drink.
The “Bubbly and Bear” gift pack includes a teddy bear attached to its own-branded sparkling wine.
The Portman Group’s independent complaints panel, which rules on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks, says that the gift pack, which was produced by Blue Sky Beverages exclusively for Asda, breached the industry’s code by appealing to under-18s.
The panel accepted that Asda had not done so deliberately, and that the supermarket had taken in store precautions to stop purchases by under-age consumers.
However, the panel felt that the use of teddy bears was wrong because they “had a particular appeal to under-18s, especially the very young and teenage girls”.
The Portman Group has now published a guidance note specifically on gift packs, to help manufacturers and retailers stay within the code.
Asda says it has received no complaints from customers, but that the product would nevertheless be removed promptly from sale in all its stores.
Jean Coussins, chief executive of The Portman Group says: “This decision sets a precedent for the gift-pack sector.”
The Portman Group is funded by the major drinks producers including Beverage Brands, Carlsberg UK, Diageo, InBev UK, Pernod Ricard UK and Scottish & Newcastle.
The group’s remit is to promote responsible drinking, help prevent alcohol abuse and encourage responsible marketing.