Packaging and social media marketing face ABAC


As ABAC complaints declined throughout the second quarter of 2022, recent adjudications have raised issues around packaging and social media posts.

One complaint, which concerned Wildflower Brewing and Blending’s Henrietta Ale, highlighted the use of children’s drawings on packaging labels.

Another similar complaint regarding Cronulla Beer Co’s Mother’s Milk stout, shed light on how design styles could appeal to minors.

Meanwhile, an ABAC panel judged whether an Instagram reel from South St Seltzer promoted the excessive consumption of alcohol.

Wildflower Brewing and Blending

Wildflower Brewing and Blending has raised the issue of appealing to minors with the packaging of its Henrietta Ale.

The complainant argued that the children’s drawings used on the product’s packaging label can be construed as appealing to minors.

“I don’t think it is appropriate to use children’s drawings to sell beer and I think it attracts minors to the product,” the complainant said.

The ABAC code states that marketing communication must not have strong or evident appeal to minors.

Wildflower Brewing responded by stating while it disagreed with the complaint, it was “interested” to hear the discussion from the panel. It also said it would cease production of the beer and printing of the label, regardless of the panel’s decision.

The company also acknowledged in an Instagram post that “moderation, not overconsumption, is a cornerstone of our business and our beer” and that the existence of ABAC is “undeniably a good thing as this industry could and likely would be filled [with] more misleading and distasteful branding if left unchecked.”

The panel concluded that the packaging was in breach of part 3 of the code, due to the use of unicorn imagery and the style in which the drawing was made as it “generally gives the label a strong appeal to minors due to the use of imagery familiar to minors; and the depiction of an activity (colouring in) that is relatable to minors.”

Cronulla Beer Co

Similarly, Cronulla Beer Co. also faced an ABAC panel over an Instagram post that raised the issue of appealing to minors.

The post showcases an illustration of its Mother’s Milk product which the complainant argued as “irresponsible and appealing to minors, which is in contravention of the code.”

The company responded to the complaint and said it has since removed the word “milk” from the illustration however, it also argued that due to the colour palette of the design and the fact that the product is a stout, it is confident that it does not appeal to minors.

Before stating its decision, the panel said the determination was confined to the Instagram post and not the product packaging, as there wasn’t any physical product packaging at the time of the complaint and the image used in the post is not identical to the actual packaging used now.

The panel upheld the complaint and concluded that the post was in breach of the code due to the use of the word milk and illustration of a milk carton figure as, “a reasonable person would probably understand the post has a strong and evident appeal to minors.”

South St Seltzer

South St Seltzer received a complaint in June regarding an Instagram reel that was posted to the company’s page.

The complaint said, “the marketing depicts people “shotgunning” which is an inappropriate, irresponsible and harmful way to consume alcohol.”

The nature of the complaint relates to part 3 of the ABAC code which stipulates that marketing communication must not show or encourage excessive consumption of an alcohol beverage.

The next day, South St Seltzer confirmed that the breach was accepted and removed the post from its Instagram page.

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