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Diageo hits out at Portman Group ruling

Diageo has expressed its disappointment over the ruling of UK alcohol advertising regulator The Portman Group that one of its counter-top display units breached marketing rules.

Diageo’s “Mix it up Tonight” promotional display has been branded “irresponsible” by UK regulator The Portman Group

The watchdog received a complaint from the Northampton Borough Licensing Team, claiming that the counter-top location and colourful design of Diageo’s “mix it up tonight” promotion could encourage irresponsible, impulse purchases, and appeal to under-18s.

The Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel ruled that the message of the promotion encouraged consumers to drink several bottles in one sitting, though Diageo argued the message simply referred to the various mixed drinks that could be created with its products.

While the original complaint that the unit could appeal to underage consumers was not upheld by The Portman Group, Diageo had already redesigned the counter-top unit to omit the “mix it up tonight” message before the complaint was made for “commercial reasons”.

A spokesperson said that Diageo did not agree with The Portman Group’s ruling. “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.”

Diageo has also been reprimanded by the UK’s Advertising Standard’s Authority (ASA) twice this year over “irresponsible” marketing of its Captain Morgan rum brand.

Its rival Pernod Ricard hit out at The Portman Group in July this year after the authority warned retailers that its namesake anise brand had breached marketing rules.

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