ABAC rules on Imperial Biggie again

Biggie Imperial Feral

Feral Brewing’s Imperial Biggie has faced an ABAC panel again, while Asahi received a complaint for advertising during a screening of the latest Star Wars instalment.

This is not the first time Feral’s Imperial Biggie has received a complaint, with another very similar one made last month.

The complainant took umbrage to the 8% abv Imperial Biggie’s packaging, but also to a number of website and social media posts relating to its “Bigger, Juicier and Hoppier” claims compared to the 6% abv regular Biggie Juice. The posts were made throughout 2019 between June and October.

Similarly to the objections raised last month, the unnamed complainant was concerned that Feral was consistently promoting Imperial Biggie’s higher abv, which goes against ABAC guidelines which require breweries to not emphasise the alcohol strength of a product or its intoxicating effects.

Feral, part of the Coca Cola Amatil Group, reiterated the points it made in December, saying that the terms “Bigger, Juicier, Hopper” are related to the product style rather than strength of the alcohol.

It said that all marketing messages had been amended since the previous complaint, removing the references to “booziest”, and that it has “more alcohol” and that it continues to search through its posts and websites to identify others that may exist – bearing in mind guidance from ABAC which suggested brands should review historical social media posts to ensure they conform to regulations.

ABAC did not rule that Imperial Biggie’s packaging was in breach of the code previously. In this instance, the panel reiterated its earlier ruling, saying the overall impression was that there was not particular emphasis on the alcoholic strength of the beverage.

However it did rule that two of the four posts were in breach, noting that its website post stated said the beer “turned it up to 11” and mentioned “more alcohol”, whilst a Facebook post also mentioned the higher abv in the text.

The other two were not in breach said ABAC, as no undue prominence had been given to the design elements of either post which stated the alcohol content.

Another ruling related to advertisements for Asahi and Chivas Regal during a 3.30pm screening of Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker at a Melbourne suburban theatre, saying they were concerned that the advertisement was displayed during an M rated movie which underage people are permitted to view.

ABAC and media industry placement rules stipulate that alcohol advertisements cannot be shown if the audience of a film or television programme is likely to be less than 75 per cent over the legal drinking age of 18.

Asahi responded by saying that audience information for this latest Star Wars instalment would not be available until February, but listed the previous audiences of the Star Wars franchise films, all of which it said showed audiences of 80 per cent and above in the over 18 age bracket.

It said the advertisement was clearly aimed at a mature audience, and Pernod Ricard Winemakers, owners of the Chivas Regal brand, made similar arguments.

ABAC responded that there is no requirement in its code that alcohol advertising be restricted only to R-rated movies. It agreed that based on available data for the previous films, it was reasonable to expect that the average audience would not contain more than 25 per cent under 18s.

The panel also noted that it had considered the Star Wars franchise previously in its ruling on Hop Nation’s Jedi Juice, saying that it had multi-generational appeal, and therefore not a strong appeal to specifically minors.

It considered the likely audience to be within acceptable age parameters and dismissed the complaints.

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