Pernod Ricard slams Portman Group for ‘sledgehammer’ ad rule warning

Pernod Ricard has hit out at what it claims is a “sledgehammer” ruling from trade body the Portman Group that found it failed to market one of its brands responsibly.

The Portman Group has asked retailers to stop selling bottles of Pernod after ruling the alcohol content on it was not clear enough.

The drinks maker breached alcohol-marketing rules for not promoting the alcohol content of its Pernod anise-flavoured spirit with “absolute clarity” on its label.

The Portman Group ruled that while the abv content featured on the bottle, the colour of the text meant that consumers could find it difficult to read. It said Pernod was relying too much on it brand name to communicate its alcoholic content and asked retailers and bars not to stock bottle’s with the label after September.

Pernod Ricard accepted the ruling but hit out at its strictness, comparing the organisation’s method to using a “sledgehammer to crack a nut”. The company “does not share the Independent Complaints Panel’s (ICP) view that the abv as stated on the front label is ’not easily legible’” it added.

Denis O’Flynn, managing director of Pernod Ricard UK, says: “We do accept that we must comply with the findings of the ICP and therefore we have already given instruction to the producers in France to modify the label in accordance with the ICP wishes.

“Pernod Ricard UK has shared the revised label with the Portman Group who confirmed the new label is in compliance with the code.  This modification will be carried out as soon as is practical and Pernod Ricard UK has communicated this to the Portman Group.”

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, says: “It is important that the alcoholic nature of a product is communicated with absolute clarity for consumers and this ruling shows that producers cannot rely on the brand name to convey this, but must consider all aspects of the label to ensure this is being achieved.

“We welcome the company’s commitment to amend the packaging to comply with the code.”

It comes just weeks after Magners owner C&C Group resigned from the Portman Group, which is funded by the industry to lobby for its own efforts to police the responsible marketing and sale of alcoholic drinks, after it accused the body of pursuing an agenda “at odds” with the wider UK industry.

Craft beer brewer BrewDog reacted in typically outlandish fashion earlier this year over the Portman Group’s ruling that its Dead Pony Club beer breached the body’s marketing code.

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