Portman Group upholds complaint against ‘irresponsible’ cider branding

Drinks regulating body the Portman Group has told retailers not to sell a cider from Newquay because its packaging seems to “irresponsibly” play on suicide.

(Photo: Portman Group)


Called “Suicyder”, the cider is made by The Bearded brewery in Newquay, and comes in at a high 7.8% ABV.

The product name ‘Suicyder’ also appeared in combination with a human skull, a noose and the wording “juice from the noose”.

A member of the public submitted a complaint to Portman, arguing that the wording and imagery, along with the relatively high alcoholic content, makes a “clear association between their cider and the dangerous act of suicide.”

The complainant said the packaging was “reckless and dangerous in the extreme”.

“It is clearly irresponsible of The Bearded Brewery to produce and market a cider with a brand name that plays on the word ‘suicide’, uses iconography like a rope noose that is associated with suicide, and uses the strapline ‘juice from the noose’,” the complainant told Portman.

“Given that the highest risk group for suicide are men aged 25-34, I find the targeting and brand positioning of ‘Suicyder’ by The Bearded Brewery to be reckless and dangerous in the extreme, and in breach of your Code Rule 3.2(b)”

Portman ruled that the name ‘Suicyder’, when used in combination with imagery that depicted a hanging method of suicide, created a “direct link between suicide, alcohol and dangerous behaviour.”

A spokesperson said it was “wholly inappropriate to link a product’s name and imagery to the tragic act of suicide.

“I hope this reminds producers of their responsibilities when designing packaging and naming products. If in doubt producers are encouraged to make use of our free advisory service to avoid problems before they arise.”

The company had stated in its defence that the noose was meant to reflect the owner’s previous career as a tree surgeon, where a noose was used to dismantle unsafe trees.

The Bearded Brewery also pointed to previous partnerships with charities, which included contributions to Rotary, Lions and Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM).

However, the panel said consumer would have to understand this inside knowledge to “displace the main connotation portrayed by the product name and imagery on the front label and that most consumers would be unaware of this link.”

It also said that that “confusion was created by the otherwise commendable support for CALM, which was a suicide prevention charity; this suggested that the producers had recognised, in some way, a link between the name of their product and the issue of suicide.”

Portman has issued a Retailer Alert Bulletin (RAB), asking shop-owners not to re-order the cider for sale.

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