A Frederick, Maryland brewery finds itself in a bit of a marketing controversy over in the United Kingdom and true to their DNA they’re not backing down or going away…
Here’s the deal
Flying Dog’s Easy IPA, a popular import to the United Kingdom has been called out by The Portman Group, a UK alcohol industry regulatory body, for its Ralph Steadman penned artwork that according to the organization features an inebriated looking character they suggested could encourage “immoderate consumption”.
Responding to an initial complaint over concerns that the can’s artwork appealed to those aged under 18 was rejected by the regulatory organization. But they did conclude that the packaging encouraged irresponsible consumption especially alongside the image of an inebriated looking creature balancing on one leg,
The Portman Group a self-regulatory body with 100% self-righteousness and zero legal sway, urged Flying Dog to “alter its packaging in the UK in the interests of the wider drinks industry “ which as anyone familiar with US brewery’s opposition to censorship elicited predictable results.
Responding to the ruling, Flying Dog refuted the panel’s finding that the product indirectly encouraged immoderate consumption. And it disagreed that the character visible on the front of Easy IPA had ‘red droopy eyes’, saying instead that the character’s characteristics were “whimsical and carefree rather than inebriated”.
“Not surprisingly, the alleged complaint – by a sole individual – that a product labeled ‘Easy IPA Session India Pale Ale’ might be mistaken for a soft drink was, we believe, correctly dismissed by the Portman Group, That should have been the end of it. However, the Portman Group then went on to ban the creative and carefree Easy IPA label art by the internationally-renowned UK artist Ralph Steadman.”
A world-reknowed graphic artist, Steadman has illustrated all of Flying Dog’s labels since 1995…
“Without question, over-consumption, binge drinking and drunk-driving are serious health and public safety issues, and Flying Dog has always advocated for moderation and responsible social drinking. At the same time, there is no evidence to suggest that the whimsical Ralph Steadman art on the Easy IPA label causes any of those problems.”
“We believe that British adults can think for themselves and Flying Dog, an independent US craft brewer, will not honor the Portman Group’s request to discontinue shipping Easy IPA to the UK.”
According to the Drinks Business, John Timothy, secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, responded in kind….
“We are disappointed that Flying Dog Brewery do not appear to respect the decision or the process. Producers need to be extremely sensitive about the overall impact of their labelling. Use of a phrase that could have been innocuous on its own has taken on a different meaning when considered alongside a drunken looking character.”
According to the Baltimore Sun “Caruso said he will have a discussion with Flying Dog’s UK distributor, James Clay, about how best to proceed, and whether or not Flying Dog will ship Easy IPA to the UK in the future.”