Told you: Calls for plain packaging on beer now

Plain Packaging for beer: Is this our future?

Plain Packaging for beer: Is this our future?

I warned everybody, and have been doing so for years, that if we allow plain packaging for products like tobacco then it wouldn’t be long before calls for plain packing came for other products, most notably alcohol and sugar.

Well, no one listened to me. Commenters on this blog also, rather po-facedly, stated that they didn’t mind on tobacco. Now there are calls for plain packaging of alcohol.

Alcohol watchdogs are concerned beer branding featuring cute cartoons or resembling softdrinks, may be too appealing to minors.

The rise of the craft beer market has resulted in a new wave of creative, colourful, and often cartoonish labels as alcohol producers compete for consumers’ attention.

Auckland craft brewery Behemoth Brewing Company, has “brave bikkie brown ale” featuring a cartoon monster eating a cookie on its bottles.

A mouse riding a dog appears on Scallywag rich amber ale from Auckland craft brewery Schipper’s Beer, while a badger wearing a jetpack stars on its Boffin bitter.

Even the Mac’s beer range, owned by major brewer Lion, features labels with drawings of wolves, a shark fin and an Indian Pale Ale called “birthday suit” with a grizzly beer holding a hop bud. And two months ago, the darling of the New Zealand craft beer scene, Garage Project, released a “Lola cheery cola beer” in a can with a striking resemblance to Coca-Cola.

But while this type of branding can be fun and exciting for adults, it can spell confusion for youngsters, said Rebecca Williams, director of the Alcohol Healthwatch group.

She said cartoons on alcohol labelling sent a message to minors that alcohol consumption should not be taken seriously, blurring the reality that it contained a toxin.

“Look at the colours of them – they’re cute, they’re quirky,” said Williams.

When children liked a brand or could relate to it, it translated into early alcohol consumption, she said.

“I think it’s about time somebody was challenged.”

What a lot of hogwash. Like a preschooler will want to drink beer because of a label…one taste of it and they will spit it out. Where is the parental responsibility of not letting minors drink? It’s not like they can stroll into a  store and buy the booze themselves…they are minors!

 

The owner of Auckland craft brewer Schipper’s Niels Schipper said he did not know there was an alcohol advertising code featuring a clause prohibiting the use of cartoons or imagery that appealed to minors.

“I haven’t really given it much thought because a child can’t go into a shop and buy it,” Schipper said.

Niels’ friend drew the images for Schipper in exchange for beer as payment, he said.

“I give him a pretty open brief really.”

He said there were too many negative images representing darkness and death in beer labelling and he wanted a more approachable brand.

“I’m just trying to keep things simple and fun.”

Exactly. Minors can’t buy beer. Forcing manufacturers to change labels based on the whinging of wowsers is wrong.

These wowsers must be opposed. Unfortunately, Sam Lotu Iiga was a gutless minister who dropped his pants to officials and wowsers and brought in plain packaging for cigarettes with no scientific or market-based proof the measures work. Not once did he stop to think about what was the point of plain packaging when tobacco products are not allowed to be advertised, even in the store and have to be kept in plain unadorned cupboards out of sight.

Now the wowsers will use plain packaging for tobacco to push for it for other products.

 

-Fairfax

 


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