National | Alcohol

Cartoons on vodka dropped after complaints

Greenhill Beverages are changing their branding after complaints it looked too much like a children's cartoon. Photo / Ellen Thompson

The makers of a pre-mixed alcoholic drink will change the packaging after complaints it looked too much like a children's cartoon book.

The complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority raised concerns the Greenhill Seltzers vodka boxes would make the beverage appeal to minors.

"I recently went into a liquor store and couldn't believe my eyes when I saw a product that literally looks like my children's cartoon books. I thought this must be illegal ..." the complainant wrote.

"How is this company allowed to package and promote products which clearly have children's cartoons all over their products? Every single one of them. Please do something about this," the complaint read.

The beverage company was formed by two young Kiwis and has been stocked in New Zealand liquor stores since 2019.

The limited edition mixed pack featured five animal characters in an underwater scene. Each can of vodka contains 6 per cent of alcohol.

An ASA decision released in June ruled the branding of the beverages was appealing to children.

"There is a social responsibility that alcohol companies have when it comes to targeting the right audience," the decision said.

"The content of alcohol advertising and promotion including the theme, images, wording, music and language used in the promotion must only target adults."

The ASA rules also mentioned branding shouldn't be confused with confectionery, soft drinks or other non-alcoholic products.

The chairperson of the ASA accepted the complaint to go before the board, but Greenhill opted to remove their advertising to stop the complaint from going further.

"The advertiser engaged with the process and said it took social responsibility in marketing its alcohol products seriously.

"The chair acknowledged the advertiser's co-operative engagement with the process and the self-regulatory action being taken to change its packaging," the ASA chairperson said.

A spokesperson from Greenhill Beverages told Open Justice they were in the process of changing the branding and removing all current boxes from liquor stores.

"All boxes with this branding will be removed by November.

"We really want to minimise the chances of having another complaint like this again."

Greenhill said the advertising was based around raising awareness for marine life, with 10 per cent of profits donated to marine scientists to protect marine life.

Open Justice