The changes which need to be made to the can


A complaint about the packaging of Tiny Rebel’s Cwtch Welsh Red Ale (330ml can) has been upheld by the independent complaints panel of the Portman Group for having a particular appeal to under-18s and indirectly encouraging immoderate consumption.

The complainant — one member of the public — believed that the product wasn’t obviously alcoholic, due to the design, and also had a particular appeal to children.

When considering the image of the bear on the front of the can, and its positioning alongside the wording Tiny Rebel, the panel agreed that the packaging indirectly encouraged immoderate consumption.

The panel also considered the prominence of the bear above the wording Tiny Rebel, in combination with the graffiti and swirling primary colours, caused the product to have a particular appeal to under-18s.

While considering the ruling, the panel recognised Tiny Rebel’s social responsibility work in their local community and highlighted that they had not deliberately sought to create product packaging which had an appeal to under-18s.

The Portman Group also acknowledged the positive way in which the producer has engaged with the Advisory Service throughout the complaint process and welcomed its early commitment to respect the panel’s ruling.

Today, Tiny Rebel has set out its response to the ruling and the costs it is having to pick up in its wake.

‘We are not the victim… the industry is’

In a long a detailed blog, the company says that while it disagrees with the ruling, it has no alternative other than to accept it and comply with it. “The facts are: we communicated regularly with the Portman Group over the past 5 months and actually found them to be an alright bunch, and we obviously disagree with the Panel’s decision, but have to do what they say because they have us over a barrel commercially. We’re not the victim here. The industry is.

“This sets a precedent, but the boundaries on that precedent aren’t clear and the decisions are enormously subjective, and take in a very limited view of the world. How the hell do you not appeal to under-18s?! There is no clear difference between what is and isn’t allowed, and that’s a major problem. It forces companies to be over-cautious in design, which is inherently limiting. Instead of designing something for what consumers would like, companies have to design bearing what the most prudish among us wouldn’t like.”

Read the full text of Tiny Rebel’s blog response at

Tiny Rebel says that this one complaint, adjudicated by an industry body funded by the likes of ABInBev, Carlsberg & Diageo and a complaints panel made up of ten people, has cost it more than £31,000. It lists the costs, which range from legal fees to travel expenses to and from London and packaging and design costs.

Secretary to the independent complaints panel, John Timothy, said: ‘‘I welcome the way in which Tiny Rebel Brewing Company has engaged with the advisory service throughout this process and their commitment to ensure the panel ruling is incorporated into wider work to evolve the brand.

“While it was clearly not the intention of the producer to promote immoderate consumption, even indirectly, companies have to be extremely vigilant around themes that could be attractive to young people, particularly when designing 330ml cans which, in the UK, are traditionally associated with soft drinks.”

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