I have in the past criticised the Portman Group for having a po-faced and heavy-handed approach, and being all too willing to act on a single vexatious complaint. But surely it should be obvious that it is neither appropriate nor responsible to promote alcoholic drinks using images relating to childhood treats, or with references to drunkenness.
No major alcohol producer would even dream of using such themes. But there still seems to be a view in the craft beer community that it is part of their mission in life to be edgy and transgressive, and that they are not bound by the rules that apply to the stuffed shirts. Yes, there is a place for humour in alcohol marketing, something the Portman Group sometimes fails to appreciate, but there are subjects that it should steer well clear of.
At a time when there is ever-growing pressure for tighter curbs on alcohol promotion and marketing, selling products like this is offering a hostage to fortune that may well end up being flung back in the industry’s face. As I wrote back in 2020 over a similar case involving Lost & Grounded Brewery, “is defending figures reminiscent of children’s cartoon characters really the hill you want to die on when standing up for the rights of alcohol producers?”
And it’s impossible to escape the suspicion that these can designs did not stem from an innocent mistake, but were deliberately tweaking the regulator’s tail in a bid to gain publicity.