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    ASA rules on Spiced Gold vs Red Heart

    Grey Worldwide, on behalf of Guinness, lodged a complaint against DGB's claim that Red Heart is "South Africa's Top Selling Imported Rum". Guiness' response, supported by the Association for Responsible Alcohol Use, was that Captain Morgan is classified as a Spirit Aperitif and not as a Rum.

    The complainant's objection pertained to a print advertisement for Red Heart Imported Blended Rum, which claims that its brand Red Heart is "South Africa's top selling imported Rum". The complainant submitted that the claim is misleading because in terms of volume sold, Spiced Gold is the leader brand in the imported rum category with an approximate annual volume sold of 135 000 cases as opposed to approximately 105 000 cases of Red Heart.

    The complainant submitted that should the complaint be successful, the offending claim should be removed from all the respondent's advertising and communication with immediate effect.

    The complainant produced figures by AC Nielssen to support its claim that Spiced Gold is a bigger seller than Red Heart in South Africa.

    RELEVANT CLAUSES OF THE CODE OF ADVERTISING PRACTICE

    The pertinent clauses of the Code in this matter are:

    · Section II, Clause 4.1 - Misleading Claims
    · Section II, Clause 4.2.1 - Substantiation.

    REPRESENTATION

    Guinness was represented by Carl Reinders, Marketing Manager, Guinness UDV.

    DGB was represented by Harry Dare, Marketing Director, DGB.

    RESPONSES

    The complainant argued that young drinkers, particularly women, regard Spiced Gold as a rum and drink it as an alternative to a dark rum. The complainant acknowledged that Spiced Gold is lighter than a dark rum but in terms of all its labelling, it is labelled as "Produced from Jamaican Rum" and all the design elements on the label point to it being a rum. Moreover, it is the top selling rum product in South Africa. Whilst technically Spiced Gold is not a rum, consumers perceive it as such.

    The respondent submitted that in terms of the class designations of product in the Liquor Products Act, a rum must have a minimum alcohol of 43%. The respondent argued that Spiced Gold does not fall into the rum category as its alcohol content is only 37.5% and it is thus classified as a Spirit Aperitif. The respondent presented a Spiced Gold label on which the classification "Spirit Aperitif" is clearly stated. The Department of Agriculture establishes the parameters of rum products. This is not a mere technicality but a classification system. Spirit Aperitif therefore falls into a different liquor category from Red Heart.

    ADVERTISING INDUSTRY TRIBUNAL RULING

    The Tribunal acknowledged that in terms of the AC Nielssen definition and the category in which the two spirits are drunk, consumers do regard Spiced Gold as a type of rum.

    However, in light of the Liquor Products Act's legal definition of a rum, specifically requiring a level of 43% alcohol before it can be technically and accurately be described as a rum, the Tribunal held that Spiced Gold is not legally a rum. From a technical point of view DGB is therefore entitled to claim that Red Heart is the best selling imported rum on the market.

    Accordingly, the complaint was dismissed.



    Editorial contact

    Dineo Pooe
    Communications Executive
    The Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa
    Tel: 011 781 2006




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