Asda has been reprimanded for selling a gift pack containing an alcoholic drink and a teddy bear from its shelves after an investigation by the Portman Group, the drinks industry’s self-regulatory body. It is the second time in under a year that Asda has been found in breach of the drinks industry’s marketing code by selling gift packs combining alcohol and cuddly toys.
The Portman Group says that the retailer and its supplier have “overstepped the market with this irresponsible marketing.”
David Poley, chief executive of The Portman Group, says it has repeatedly warned the industry about the risks of selling alcohol with cuddly toys.
He adds: “In future, we hope that all alcohol gift pack producers will seek pre-sale advice on responsible marketing from The Portman Group. In fact, specific guidance on alcohol sold with gift packs has been developed to help producers be responsible.”
The “Chocolate and Cream” gift pack was produced by The Gift Business exclusively for Asda, and contained a mug, a small bottle of liqueur and a teddy bear. After a complaint from a member of the public, the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel ruled that the pack breached the Code of Practice because it would particularly appeal to under-18s.
In its evidence to The Independent Complaints Panel, The Gift Business pointed out that there was a prominent label on the front of the gift pack which stated: “contains alcohol. Not suitable for under-18s.” An Asda spokesman says the retailer will abide by the ruling, but disagrees with it as the pack was clearly aimed at adults. Asda sold 30,000 of the packs prior to Christmas 2006.
In June 2006, the Portman Group ruled that the “Bubbly and Bear” gift pack, produced by Blue Sky Beverage Co for Asda, breached its Code by appealing to under-18s.