SPAR ‘Everyday Wine’ press releases complaint upheld

18/05/2018

A complaint about two SPAR press releases promoting a new ”Everyday Wine” range has been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel) for indirectly encouraging immoderate consumption.  A copy of the full decision can be read here.

The complainant, Alcohol Concern Wales, believed that SPAR, by naming the range ‘Everyday Wine’, was alluding to drinking the product everyday, going against the Chief Medical Officers’ Guidelines on Low Risk Drinking which advises people who drink regularly to have alcohol free days. 

The Panel noted that the press releases were for the company’s retailer audience and were not intended for consumer communication. The term ‘everyday’ was used to position the product to retailers as lower priced wine.  In both press releases the wording used appeared as ‘everyday drinking’ which linked the messaging to daily consumption of the product.  The Panel concluded that the phrase was creating a direct correlation between low price and acceptability of everyday alcohol consumption, although this may have been unintentional.   When considered in the context of the 2016 CMOs’ Guidelines the Panel agreed that the term ‘everyday drinking’ was unacceptable under rule 3.2(f).   

The Panel advised that all companies should carefully consider the language used in brand communications regardless of intended audience, because in a digital age there was always the potential for the communication to be seen by a wider group. In this instance, a different phrase to categorise the range could have been used.

The Portman Group welcomed SPAR’s confirmation that they would not use the term ‘Everyday Wine’ in either consumer or retailer facing communications following the Panel’s decision.  

Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, John Timothy said:

‘‘I welcome the constructive manner in which SPAR has approached this complaint and their commitment to respecting the decision of the Panel. While it was clearly not their intention to use the phrase ‘everyday drinking’ with shoppers, today’s ruling highlights the need for retailers as well as producers to show considerable care around the language they use in their marketing materials, regardless of the intended audience.”

SPAR Head of Brand, Cath McIlwham said:

“At SPAR we take the responsibility of retailing alcohol very seriously and work closely with The Portman Group. The use of the term was intended to explain the price positioning of the wine range in question and not to be communicated to customers or to encourage increased alcohol consumption. We have taken steps to ensure this phrase will not be used again in any of our communications either to consumers or retailers. SPAR remains committed to the responsible sale of alcohol.”

The full ruling from the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel) can be read here