‘Wonky’ Willy’s Cider complaint rejected

Complaints that a “wonky barn” cartoon character on a bottle of “Willy’s” cider breached alcohol marketing rules by appealing to children and referencing male sexual organs have been dismissed by the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel (ICP).


A member of the public submitted a complaint to the ICP after taking offence to the label for Willy’s Cider, produced by Chase Distillery, claiming it was in breach of packaging codes as it made reference to male sexual organs.

Furthermore, the complainant said the reference to a “Wonky Barn” and the use of a cartoon character could appeal to children by alluding to “Willy Wonka’s Chocolate factory”.

Today, the ICP ruled that the brand was not in breach of alcohol marketing rules on sexual activity or on appealing to children.

Responding to the complaint, Chase Distillery explained that “Willy’s” referred to their founder, William Chase, and that the “Wonky Barn” cartoon label detail was a reference to the barn at the founder’s home, where the cider was originally produced.

The panel noted that the founder was named William and that the cider had been named after him. It also said there was nothing on the packaging that played to any sexual connotation. While the label did feature a small cartoon-like image of a farmer, the panel said it “far from dominated the front label and the words ‘Wonky Barn’ did not feature prominently.”

Henry Ashworth, secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, said: “It is vital that alcohol is not marketed through association with sexual activity or sexual success, and alcohol must certainly not appeal to children. This product did not breach those rules and therefore the complaint was not upheld.”

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