A complaint about the packaging of the Psy.cho range of beers promoting violent and aggressive behaviour has been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel).  A copy of the full decision can be read here.

The complainant, a member of the public, believed that the use of the word ‘psycho’, and accompanying marketing slogans on the product website, such as “calling all you psychos”, associated the product with aggressive behaviour and perpetuated negative stereotypes regarding mental health, thus breaching the Portman Group Code under paragraph 3.2(b).

The Panel discussed the name and marketing of the product. It noted that the product labelling was subdued and also acknowledged that the company had made changes to its website. Nevertheless, the Panel found the product name created an association with violent and aggressive behaviour and being out of control; and, when combined with the marketing strategy and website images including that of Norman Bates from the movie Psycho and the phrase “designed to mess with your mind” that the product did breach the Portman Group Code of Practice. Therefore, the Panel upheld the complaint under Code rule 3.2(b).  

Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, Henry Ashworth said:

‘‘Alcohol producers must be aware of popular culture and dual meanings of words and phrases when naming their products, and whilst designing the associated marketing campaigns. If a producer is unsure, the Portman Group Advisory Service is free and confidential.”

Retailer Alert Bulletin - PDF.