Youth drinks condemned for sexual labelling

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The Independent Online
The drinks watchdog, the Portman Group, is to set up an independent panel to monitor the naming and packaging of drinks such as alcopops, after criticism of its in-house system.

However, its latest report on the naming and packaging of alcoholic drinks upheld almost half the complaints that had been made. Three drinks in particular, TNT Liquid Dynamite, Purple Passion and Dogs Bollocks, were found to have breached the drinks industry guidelines.

TNT Liquid Dynamite was found to be unacceptable for using dangerous imagery, the packaging being reminiscent of a stick of dynamite.

Purple Passion, which uses the phrase "testi coolz" on its label, breached the code by inferring that the product might boost sexual prowess. Dogs Bollocks also implied sexual prowess and the Portman Group objected to its marketing strapline "Dangerously Drinkable". The code, which was brought in mainly to deal with alcopops, is voluntary.

Mark Round, a partner in Round Imports, which makes TNT, said they would not change anything. "We asked the Portman Group to furnish us with evidence to support their allegation that TNT encourages anti-social behaviour," Mr Round said. "They have not been able to give us any evidence." He described the Portman Group's decision as "unfounded and unfair".

Jean Coussins, director of the Portman Group, said they had no jurisdiction over brewers who have not signed up to the code. But he said many retailers supported the code and might refuse to stock the items.

Ian Rogers, managing director of Wychwood Brewing, who produce Dogs Bollocks, said they would review the name, but also criticised Portman for singling out three independent breweries.

The new independent panel will be chaired by Laurence Shurman, the former banking ombudsman. It includes a headteacher, a former Lord Provost and Lord Lieutenant of Glasgow, and the chairman of the Advertising Association.

Mary-Ann McKibben, assistant director of Alcohol Concern, welcomed the creation of an independent panel. "We have been campaigning for the establishment of an independent panel to consider complaints because there were clearly question marks about the impartiality of the Portman Group, which is funded by the country's largest drinks companies," she said.