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Pernod hits out at ‘disappointing’ Portman ruling

Pernod Ricard has branded the Portman Group’s warning to retailers that its namesake anise breached marketing rules as akin to “using a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.

Pernod-Anise-Portman-Group
Pernod Ricard has hit out at the Portman Group’s ruling that its namesake anise breaches marketing laws

Earlier today, UK alcohol standards agency the Portman Group issued a Retailer Alert Bulletin informing recipients that it had found Pernod, an anise-based spirit, in breach of alcohol marketing rules for failing to communicate its alcoholic nature with “absolute clarity”.

The group’s Independent Complaints Panel found that the abv printed on the front of the bottle was “not legible” due to the colour of the text.

The panel accepted that the text ‘spiritueux anise’ on the rear of the packaging was intended to describe the alcoholic nature of the product, but ruled that the French text was insufficiently clear for UK consumers.

It therefore concluded that Pernod was “relying too much” on its brand name to communicate the alcoholic nature of the product.

“It is important that the alcoholic nature of a product is communicated with absolute clarity for consumers and this ruling shows that producers cannot rely on the brand name to convey this, but must consider all aspects of the label to ensure this is being achieved,” said secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel Henry Ashworth.

French drinks group Pernod Ricard said that it disagrees with the Independent Complaints Panel that the label was not easily legible, and was “disappointed” that the group had issued a Retailer Alert Bulletin instructing retailers not to order Pernod stock in this particular packaging after 12 September 2014.

The brand is, however, in the process of modifying its label in order to comply with the Portman Group’s ruling. A version of the label has been confirmed by the group as compliant with its marketing code.

“We do accept that we must comply with the findings of the ICP and therefore we have already given instruction to the producers in France to modify the label in accordance with the ICP wishes,” said Denis O’Flynn, managing director of Pernod Ricard UK.

“This modification will be carried out as soon as is practical and Pernod Ricard UK has communicated this to the Portman Group.

“Pernod Ricard UK is therefore very disappointed with the issuing of the Retailer Alert Bulletin which, in our view is using a sledgehammer to crack a nut.”

The product was brought to the attention of the Panel by independent consultants Campden BRI, commissioned by the Portman Group to carry out audits across the UK off-trade.

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