The judgement follows four complaints the ASA received following the distribution of a circular from Iceland, which was delivered to homes in the week beginning October 18 and also to a school on November 25.
The circular carried an introductory offer on the Fat Bastard wine brand on its outside back page, with an accompanying strap line which read, “Outrageous name, outrageously good wine”.
The ASA was asked to rule on whether the language used in the ad was likely to cause serious or widespread offence, and whether it was was appropriately targeted because it might be seen by young children.
In its defence, Iceland maintained that while the name might be controversial and distasteful to some, it did not believe that it reached the level of causing serious or widespread offence.
Iceland noted that, while 175,000 copies of the leaflet had been distributed, the ASA had received only four complaints. Further, Iceland had never received any previous complaints about the brand, despite it having been available in store for ten years.
The wine’s name derived from the story that, when first tasting the wine, its winemaker exclaimed that it was a “fat bastard” due to its full-bodied nature, Iceland said.
With regard to the circular’s distribution, Iceland confirmed that its delivery to a primary school was a mistake which it had taken up with its distributor.
The domestic distribution was intended for adults, not children, and there was no implication that the ad was designed to attract children’s attention in any way, the retailer said.
The ASA dismissed the first challenge against Iceland, agreeing that the language of the ad was not likely to cause serious offence.
However, it upheld the complaint regarding the ad’s propriety for children, ruling that by virtue of its position on the outside of the circular, it was likely to be seen by children and that its references to “Fat Bastard” were unsuitable and irresponsible in that context.
The ad must not appear again in its current form, the ASA told Iceland, and language which was unsuitable for children should not in future appear on the outside cover of any future circular.