No Duff-ence: beer found to breach code by appealing to kids

Friday 5 September, 2014

"Duff" beer complaint upheld by ABAC

The Alcohol Policy Coalition (APC) applauds a recent decision under the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) to uphold a complaint against Woolworths' "Duff" beer.

"Duff" beer has been awarded almost cult status in the popular cartoon television series The Simpsons for more than 25 years. Notwithstanding The Simpsons' popularity with children, Woolworths, through its Dan Murphy's and BWS outlets, recently released a Duff beer product, branded to replicate the cartoon product.

The beer was advertised by Woolworths through social media channels and at a specific launch event in Sydney with accompanying public relations.

Following a complaint from the Alcohol Policy Coalition, the ABAC adjudication panel held that the product and associated advertising had breached the voluntary industry code finding:

"The association of The Simpsons with the product name and packaging, is so strongly entrenched in Australian popular culture, that the name and packaging will draw the attention of under 18 year olds and measures to market the product without references to The Simpsons characters or images cannot be effective to overcome the strong and evident appeal of the product material to underage persons".

APC spokesperson Sondra Davoren said it was a positive sign that the ABAC has upheld the complaint.

"It is concerning however that in choosing to launch such a product, Woolworths, one of Australia's biggest liquor retailers, appears to have disregarded the first principle of its own responsible buying charter that states that alcohol products ‘should not have the potential to appeal to minors'," Ms Davoren said.

"If Woolworths had considered its own guidelines as well as its obligations under the ABAC, this product never would have hit the shelves," she said.

Ms Davoren said that recent viewing data showed that children and teenagers under 18 years make up as much as 55 per cent of the audience for The Simpsons in Victoria.

"Through its creation and subsequent promotion in The Simpsons, there is no doubt that ‘Duff' beer is going to be attractive to children and young people," she said.

"This decision is also a win for the 77 per cent of Victorians who support a reduction in children's exposure to alcohol advertising".i

"Research shows a correlation between the age of a person's first drink and the development of harmful drinking patterns later in life. That is why it is really important that alcohol producers are not allowed to target kids either through their marketing activities or with alcohol products that appeal to kids and encourage them to drink," Ms Davoren said.

"In the lead up to the Victorian state election the APC has called on the Victorian Government to introduce restrictions for alcohol advertising in locations, publications and at times where advertising is likely to be seen by children. This particularly includes outdoor advertising and advertising on and around public transport."

i Nicole Shirazee, Kerry Haynes, ‘Cancer Issues Population Survey 2012' [Centre for Behavioural Research, Cancer Council Victoria, April 2013] unpublished.

Updated: 05 Sep, 2014