Alcohol packaging and marketing in front of ABAC


Both mainstream and craft breweries drew marketing and packaging complaints in the latest roundup of ABAC adjudications.

Ballistic Beer Co. and Hairyman Brewing were critiqued for the packaging and marketing of their beer appealing to minors, with ABAC making different rulings.

Meanwhile, Great Northern was judged upon a Facebook photo from 2017 involving a high-risk activity, following ABAC’s recent quarterly report, in which it was revealed that social media posts continue to be the largest source of complaints.

Ballistic Beer Co.

Brisbane’s Ballistic Beer Co. faced an ABAC panel over the online marketing of its Sleep When You’re Dead Black IPA.

The marketing promotion included a shirt as well as the beer featuring an artwork drawing of a figure sitting in a wheelchair, and an eight-panel black and white comic.

A complainant argued that the promotion was appealing to minors due to the nature of the drawing as a cartoon.

“The marketing appears to be marketing comics and cartoon characters to children in the guise of beer. These are children’s or young adult works of art that appeal to minors,” they said.

An ABAC panel concluded to dismiss the complaint as the drawings and comic were more akin to an adult graphic novel due to the use of dark colours and imagery.

Hairyman Brewery

Sydney’s Hairyman Brewery faced similar complaints about the packaging and marketing of its Hairyman Pop Ale.

Various ABAC complaints were made in regards to the labelling of the beer as it included the word ‘pop’ across the packaging. The second complaint focused on a video advertisement that appeared on the company’s Facebook page.

In a video for the beer, a fridge opens with cans of the beer appearing before the words, “Creaming. Soda. Beer!” are shown.

The complainant argued, “The font design, and general colours of the can could easily be confused with a non-alcoholic beverage. The blurb that goes along with it explaining its a beer that tastes like Pop Soda.”

An ABAC panel dismissed the first complaint as the packaging didn’t specifically appeal to minors as the word ‘ale’ was prominently shown, thus demonstrating it was an alcoholic drink. It also said that the design of the can did not resemble that of common soft drinks, which tend to use clean bold block colours.

However, the panel chose to uphold the second complaint as the Facebook advertisement made several references to creaming soda which can appeal to minors.

Great Northern Beer

Carlton & United Breweries also faced an ABAC panel over a 2017 Facebook photo featuring Great Northern Beer – marking another historic post which has been critiqued by unnamed complainants.

A complainant argued that the photo in question, which features comedian Ryan “Fitzy” Fitzgerald, Tom Williams and Matt Wright on a boat holding Great Northern beer bottles, was promoting beer drinking while performing a high-risk activity.

The complaint read, “Anyone could fall off the boat if feeling the effects of alcohol. Basic maritime knowledge knows how dangerous this can be if falling off into an ocean under the influence.”

An ABAC panel ruled to dismiss the complaint as the photo displays the boat as moving which indicates the three men shown are not in control of it. The panel stated it is generally accepted that alcohol use by passengers of a boat can occur safely.

Additionally, the panel concluded the weather conditions don’t appear to be dangerous for boating and there is no implication excessive alcohol will occur.

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