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Twickenham Brewery’s ‘Naked Ladies’ beer causes controversy

CAMRA has said it is “disappointed” at the Portman Group’s decision not to uphold a complaint by a member of the public calling Twickenham Brewery’s ‘Naked Ladies’ beer pump clip inappropriately sexualised.

Twickenham Brewery's 'Naked Ladies' beer causes controversy

A complaint against Twickenham Brewery’s ‘Naked Ladies’ pump clip has not been upheld by the alcohol industry’s Independent Complaint Panel (ICP), following a complaint from a member of the public.

The complaint raised concerns that the name, branding and design of the pump clip were inappropriately sexualised and could cause offence and embarrassment for customers and staff when ordering the product in a pub or bar.

As part of the complaint, the member of the public said: “As a middle-aged man, the experience of saying the name of the beer to the young woman serving at the bar was awkward and unsettling for all concerned.”

If upheld, Twickenham Brewery’s product would have been in violation of Code rule 3.3 – causing serious or widespread offence.

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However, the panel did not uphold the complaint. According to the Portman Group, the beer was one of several which it named after local landmarks, in this case a well known and colloquial term used to describe a group of statues in Twickenham.

The ICP said that both the beer’s packaging and the brewery website explained the historical context of the statue. It argued that the pump clip did not contain this information due to “limited space”, but said that “the reference of Twickenham in the company’s name did provide some context”.

Packaging or marketing would need to incorporate elements that were “demeaning, derogatory, gratuitous or overly sexualised” in order to be in violation of Code rule 3.3.

The panel said that the design of the pump clip was “artistically stylised and akin to art deco, with no identifying detail added to any of the statue’s features or undue focus on its pelvic or breast area”.

As such the panel considered that the depiction of the statue and the name ‘Naked Ladies’ did not cause serious or widespread offence.

Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel Rachel Childs said of the decision: “In this case, the panel concluded that the overall impression of the Naked Ladies pump clip did not fall foul of the Code and did not uphold the complaint.”

clash of opinions

However, the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) released a statement today (11 April) in which chairman Nik Antona said he was “disappointed” by the decision.

“Beer and cider are for everyone, and we want everyone to feel welcome at CAMRA festivals and in their locals. For CAMRA, that means making sure that products on sale do not invite inappropriate or exclusionary behaviour or comments,” Antona said.

Twickenham Brewery’s Naked Ladies beer was removed from eligibility for inclusion in our Champion Beer of Britain Competition in 2022, following complaints from members of the public. The decision has been upheld by CAMRA’s volunteer committees.

Antona added: “Our policies are unashamedly consumer focused and include the environment that product names and marketing – including pump clips – can create for bar staff, volunteers at our festivals, and members of the public enjoying the licensed trade. We also require brewers, cider makers and other vendors at our festivals to refrain from using discriminatory marketing at CAMRA events, as covered in our Festival Code of Conduct.”

He said CAMRA looks forward to working with the Portman Group when it next reviews its Code of Practice.

In response to CAMRA’s statement, Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group said: “Our Code of Practice protects against alcohol marketing which causes serious or widespread offence, and it stipulates that products and their marketing should not include elements which are demeaning, derogatory, gratuitous or overly sexualised. In 2019 the Code was updated to include this rule on serious and widespread offence in order to reflect changing attitudes in society and strengthen protection against discriminatory marketing, which aligns with other regulatory bodies.

“When considering the complaint against ‘Naked Ladies’ beer the Panel noted that it was one of a series of products named after local landmarks, in this case a group of statues, and that the art-deco style artwork depicted the statue without sexualisation. As such, the Independent Complaints Panel did not find the Naked Ladies pump clip caused “serious or widespread offence” under the Code and therefore did not uphold the complaint. We accept that CAMRA have taken a different position on this product, however we are clear that the decision of the Independent Complaints Panel is both fair and reasonable.”

Twickenham Brewery has been contacted for comment.

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