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Diageo 'disappointed' over Portman Group decision on Mix It Up Tonight promotion

Published:  21 August, 2014

Diageo has said it is 'disappointed' over a decision that its Mix it Up Tonight counter-top display unit breached marketing rules by encouraging irresponsible impulse purchases.


 Diageo has said it is 'disappointed' over a decision that its Mix it Up Tonight counter-top display unit breached marketing rules by encouraging irresponsible impulse purchases.

This is the second time in as many months that spirits firms have disagreed with rulings from the Independent Complaints Panel on their products. Last month Pernod Ricard took issue with criticism over its Pernod packaging, which was described as unclear, and accused the Portman Group, which administers the ICP decisions, of "using a sledgehammer to crack a nut".

DiageoDiageo disagrees with Portman Group RulingDiageo got a slap on the wrists for its Mix IT UP Tonight campaign, but said it was 'disappointed' and disagreed with the decision, especially given it had already made changes to the packaging before the complaint.

Northampton Borough Licensing Team made the original Diageo complaint saying that the counter-top location and colourful design of the Diageo promotional unit could encourage irresponsible, impulse purchases, and appeal to under-18s.

The panel thought the 'mix it up tonight' message on the unit was ambiguous. Although the producer explained that this was a reference to the mixed drinks which could be made with the individual products, the panel concluded that the message could encourage consumers to drink several bottles in one sitting. It decided that Diageo had contravened its code of practice with this message.  

But the panel noted that Diageo had already redesigned the counter-top unit to omit the 'mix it up tonight' message before the complaint was made and is therefore satisfied no action now needs to be taken.

Henry Ashworth, secretary to the ICP, said: "Caution should be exercised when it comes to messaging on packaging and promotions - particularly where more than one variety of alcohol is on sale from the same point. I would encourage all producers to consult our free and confidential Code Advisory Service if in any doubt whether their products adhere to industry standards."

A complaint regarding the appeal of the product to under-18s was not upheld.

A spokesman for Diageo said: "We apply extremely high standards to all Diageo marketing, so the Portman Group Independent Complains Panel's decision is disappointing. We simply do not agree with the Panel's view that this unit encouraged irresponsible or immoderate consumption. The unit clearly stated that each 20cl bottle contained eight drinks in each bottle and, we believe that this and the rest of the packaging encouraged responsible consumption by informing the consumer of the number of standard 25ml measures in each bottle and suggesting that they make mixed drinks to share.

"Whilst we respect the panel's ruling, we had, in any event, already updated the unit for commercial reasons some months before we were notified of the complaint and we can reassure retailers that the current redesigned counter top unit is compliant with all codes and will remain in circulation."