The Independent Complaints Panel of the Portman Group, the trade body regulating alcohol marketing, has found the Karpackie 9% beer in breach of its marketing code.
The panel said the incorporation of “9%” in the brand name risked “giving undue emphasis to the strength.”
“The “9%” appeared in large red type and was a prominent element of the design which emphasised the higher strength which might appeal particularly to those who were vulnerable, in this case because of their drinking,” the panel noted in its decision.
It also said the size and non-resealable nature of the 500ml can, which contained 4.5 units of alcohol, may encourage immoderate consumption.
“As a Panel, we concluded that the presentation of the “9%” went beyond giving factual information and gave undue emphasis on the higher strength of the product which may have particular appeal to those who are vulnerable,” commented Jenny Watson, chair of the panel.
“Further to this, we concluded that the non-resealable nature of the high strength 500ml can in combination with the absence of a sharing message meant the product was likely to encourage immoderate consumption.”
The complaint against Karpackie 9% was raised by Zenith Global which was entrusted by the Portman Group to conduct an independent audit of the market to measure compliance following the introduction of the sixth edition of its Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks in 2019.
In its submission to the panel, Van Pur, the Polish brewer which owns the brand, defended the decision to add 9% to the name and contested the claim that the labelling encouraged immoderate consumption.
However, the company added that it is planning changes to the packaging and to the whole Karpackie product line, to meet the requirements of new European legislation.
It said it was looking at adding the messages “the can contains more than 1 recommended serving – drink responsibly and do not abuse alcohol” and “best served shared” on the pack, alongside adding ‘vol.’ or ‘alc.’ after “9%”.