Thursday, 26 February 2015

Amstel Lite packaging too close rules ASA Directorate



The Advertising Standards Authority have this week published their ruling in the much awaited look-a-like case between South African Breweries (who produce the well known Castle Lite beer) and Brandhouse Beverages (who launched Amstel Lite last year). 

The ruling of the ASA Directorate sets out the grounds upon which South African Breweries complained of the look-a-like packaging and the response by Brandhouse. Relying on the Final Appeal Committee ruling in Amos/Pritt glue stick matter upholding the colour red in packaging (reported here and here), the ASA Directorate, finding in favour of the complainanat, rules that: 

 "In the present matter, the complainant has enjoyed significant sales of Castle Lite over a period of 20 years, and has spent millions of rands advertising it. The Castle Lite packaging, which features a colour combination of green and silver, has been used consistently over the 20 year period, together with the word "LITE”. This colour combination, together with the word "LITE”, has been used exclusively by the complainant in the South African market for a long time. Accordingly, the Directorate finds that, similar to the Pritt glue stick matter, the complainant has obtained advertising goodwill in the packaging of Castle Lite, specifically its six-pack shrink wrapping and its cans. 

The Amstel Lite six-pack shrink wrapping and cans feature a similar colour combination to that of Castle Lite, and the colours are used in similar ratios, as pointed out by Cartils. In addition, the Amstel Lite packaging also prominently features the word "Lite”. Given that the green and silver colour combination and the word "LITE” have been unique features of the Castle Lite packaging in South Africa for a very long time, the use of similar elements by Amstel Lite has effectively done away with the uniqueness of these features on the Castle Lite packaging, and is therefore likely to diminish the advertising goodwill that the complainant has built up over the years in its Castle Lite packaging.  
The Directorate therefore finds that the Amstel Lite six-pack shrink wrapping and Amstel Lite cans exploit the advertising goodwill of the complainant’s Castle Lite six-pack shrink wrapping and its Castle Lite cans. The respondent has therefore contravened Clause 8 of Section II. 

The full ruling can be obtained here. Brandhouse have lodged an appeal against the ruling and a suspension of the period within which to withdraw product bearing the packaging. So, more to come on this one.

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