A complaint about the packaging of a Hooch variant has not been upheld by the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel.

The complainant, a member of the public, believed the name and design of Hoola Hooch (44cl cans) appealed to under 18s and said it was not clear from the packaging that the drink was alcoholic.

In its assessment, the Panel noted there were four alcoholic descriptors in the primary field of vision (alcohol by volume, ‘alcoholic’, ‘hooch’ and ‘brew’), and therefore concluded that the product packaging went above the minimal compliance level in communicating the alcoholic nature of the product and did not uphold the complaint under Code rule 3.1.

The Panel then discussed whether the product had a particular appeal to under 18s, referencing the can’s design and name. The Panel noted the colourful patterned design and referenced previous decisions where it was clear that bright colours alone were not necessarily problematic.

In this instance, there were no design elements of the packaging which they considered would have a particular appeal to under 18s. The Panel also acknowledged the company’s assertion that the name ‘Hoola’ was intended to reflect the tropical flavour of the drink. Therefore the Panel found that the product did not have a particular appeal to under 18s and did not find it in breach of Code rule 3.2.

The Panel commended Hoola Hooch’s producer, Global Brands, for its measured and considered response.

Secretary to the Independents Complaints Panel, John Timothy, said: “This decision once again makes clear that colour and illustration can be used on product packaging as long as it doesn’t make reference to any form of childhood culture. The Portman Group has a free, impartial Advisory Service that is open to all producers at any stage of the design process if they have any questions or concerns.”