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Jatt Life rapped for linking alcohol and driving

Vodka producer Jatt Life has cancelled its sponsorship of The Cannon Run after a complaint was upheld over its failure to promote responsible drinking during the driving event.

Vodka producer Jatt Life was considered to be in breach of six Code rules

Jatt Life’s sponsorship of The Cannon Run was considered to breach six Code rules by the Independent Complaints Panel, led by alcohol responsibility body the Portman Group.

These included linking alcohol consumption with social success and enhancement of athletic performance, as well as using under-25s in promotional activity.

The complaint, submitted by a member of the public, said that the brand was “encouraging  ‘down in one’ of a miniature bottle drinking challenge as a way to promote their social media” for which the owners are also depicted taking part in the challenge, and “encouraging others around them to down the miniature bottle in one attempt.”

The complaint continued: “They have been doing this in car events where they are sponsoring the event with evening parties following long drives in high performance vehicles which they have their branding, and most importantly their car private registration which they use to promote their brand.”

The panel discussed the formal sponsorship agreement between Jatt Life and The Cannon Run and found it to be in breach of Code rule 3.1, which states that the sponsorship must promote responsible drinking. The lack of anti-drink drive or responsible drinking messaging, which was deemed an essential part of a sponsored event linked to driving, led to the decision to uphold that complaint.

The panel referred to footage of the event published on the brand’s YouTube channel, considering it to be evidence of the behaviour and activities that took place during the event and therefore indicative of how the sponsorship was enacted.

The panel noted that one video showed miniature bottles of Jatt Life being handed out by the owner of the company from the boot of a car in what appeared to be a public car park. The panel noted there were no apparent checks on individuals who were being given the product, such as age identification. As such, the activity breached rule 3.10 as the sampling did not comply with current licensing legislation.

Further footage that featured the free-pouring of vodka from the bottle as well as scenes of alcohol being consumed around a swimming pool were considered by the panel to be examples of the event encouraging irresponsible and immoderate consumption of alcohol.

The panel noted that the video also featured some young children at the pool party, as well as people who were drinking alcohol that appeared to be under the age of 25, concluding that the sponsorship breached Code rule 3.12.

Irresponsible drinking breach

The panel considered that at a multi-day event where participants drove between locations, it was irresponsible to consume the amount of alcohol shown where participants would be driving the next day. Accordingly, the panel upheld the complaint under Code rule 3.9.

Code 3.9 was found to further be in breach after an Instagram post by the producer depicted an individual driving a supercar with a voiceover describing a fuel shortage. During the video the car is seen to run out of fuel and come to a stop. The individual then sits down by the side of the road with a bottle of Jatt Life and, before taking a drink directly from the bottle, pauses, and decides to fill the car fuel tank with Jatt Life which ignites the engine and the individual drives away.

The panel concluded that it was irresponsible to link alcohol and driving indirectly by suggesting that an individual may have consumed alcohol and then resumed driving of a vehicle.

The panel also considered that there were scenes that showed bravado during the sponsorship, a contravention of Code 3.7 which states there must be no implication that bravado, aggressive, violent, dangerous or anti-social behaviour is advocated or condoned by a drinks company or brand. The complaint was further upheld when the panel noted scenes depicting an individual smoking marijuana.

The brand was also found to have breached Code rule 3.13 for implying that alcohol enhanced social success. The panel pointed to one brand video where an individual said “If you ain’t drinking Jatt Life then you ain’t living life” which was considered to promote an overarching message that by not drinking Jatt Life, then an individual was not part of the party or social scene.

Baz and Sunny Kooner, owners of Jatt Life, said: “We take our duty as an alcohol producer to encourage safe and responsible drinking seriously but admit on this occasion and via the marketing for this event, we let our high standards slip.

“We accept the ruling of the Portman Group on the various points raised and, following this, have cancelled our sponsorship of The Cannon Run and have removed the films in question from our social media channels.”

Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group, said: “We are committed to ensuring that people can enjoy alcohol responsibly, and we take our role in reducing harmful drinking seriously. As an integral part of alcohol sponsorship agreements drinks companies must ensure there is a recognisable commitment to promoting responsible drinking and the Code rules are rigorously applied.

“This sponsorship of The Cannon Run was both at odds with the spirit of the Code of Practice and in breach of the rules designed to protect consumers. It is important that the Code remains flexible to change and we will be updating the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks Code to ensure that the appropriate rules apply across the board.”

In May, the Portman Group quashed a complaint against Zymurgorium gin liqueurs that claimed the packaging would appeal to under-18s.

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