Portman Group sees soaring complaints

Alcohol industry trade body the Portman Group dealt with the highest ever annual number of complaints about violations of its Code regarding the naming, packaging and promotion in 2008.

The group received 21 complaints during the year and eight of these were upheld by the Independent Complaints panel.

Among the companies found in breach were Beverage Brands for a “mugshots” section of its WKD website and a number of super strength lagers, such as Wells & Young’s Kestrel Super. The latter were found in breach for the way the packaging placed emphasis on the product’s alcohol strength.

The Portman Group did mount a press consumer campaign in November urging members of the public to complain if they saw any alcoholic drinks marketing that they felt breached its Code.

The drinks industry is under close scrutiny from the Government with the threat of possible legislation on marketing and promotions. The Scottish Government is poised to unveil a series of measures including minimum pricing

Ten of the complaints followed the audit of Code compliance carried out by independent management consultancy PIPC. The consultancy analysed a random sample of 485 drinks to consider which packaging might breach the code. Produces of 18 products took voluntary remedial action

The Portman Group was also been asked to give advice on 250 occasions over the year but 10 were referred to the Independent Complaints Panel and two found in breach.

Retailers do not sell any drink found in breach of the code until that drink’s marketing has been altered to comply with the Code.

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