The Portman Group, a U.K. alcohol industry self-regulatory group, has upheld a complaint against the Bearded Brewery for the name of its high-alcohol cider, Suicyder. A member of the public complained about the beverage name’s reference to suicide, calling Suicyder “clearly irresponsible” because it purportedly targets young men—”the group at highest risk of suicide”—and uses associated iconography, such as the tagline “juice from the noose.” The company asserted that the “name of the cider was based on a wordplay with the intention being to indicate the strength of the alcohol content” and explained that the tagline was a reference to the founders’ previous work with the Forestry Commission that required them to use a noose to dismantle unsafe trees.

The panel was unpersuaded by tagline explanation, noting that “a consumer would have to understand this inside knowledge to displace the main connotation portrayed by the product name and imagery on the front label,” which were “unequivocally creating a direct link to suicide.” Agreeing with the complaint, the panel found the marketing “highly irresponsible” and concluded that “the product 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.” Bearded Brewery “decided not to work with the Portman Group advisory service to amend their product in line with the Panel’s ruling,” so Portman Group issued a retail alert bulletin requesting that retailers avoid placing orders for stocks of Suicyder after January 20, 2020.

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For decades, manufacturers, distributors and retailers at every link in the food chain have come to Shook, Hardy & Bacon to partner with a legal team that understands the issues they face in today's evolving food production industry. Shook attorneys work with some of the world's largest food, beverage and agribusiness companies to establish preventative measures, conduct internal audits, develop public relations strategies, and advance tort reform initiatives.

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