Tiny Rebel: ‘This is about the defence of fun and creativity’

Drinks: Drinks
Location: UK

Last week, the Portman Group ruled against Tiny Rebel, the fast-growing Newport-based brewery, following a five-month tussle surrounding the issue of whether its cans of Champion Beer of Britain, Cwtch, were likely to appeal to children.

While acknowledging that the Portman Group were ‘an alright bunch’ to deal with, Brad Cummings, co-founder of Tiny Rebel, feels the ruling raises some important issues.

Last week, he posted a lengthy statement explaining not just what had happened, but also calling for some changes in the ‘self-regulatory’ process.

Here are the key extracts from his statement…

  • ‘Colours are not specifically related to under 18s, soft drinks don’t have a monopoly on cans, and the combination of beer, colour and can is neither new nor evil.’
  • ‘We’re not the victim here. The industry is. This sets a precedent, but the boundaries on that precedent aren’t clear and the decisions are enormously subjective, and take in a very limited view of the world. How the hell do you not appeal to under 18s? There is no clear difference between what is and isn’t allowed, and that’s a major problem.’
  • ‘It forces companies to be over-cautious in design, which is inherently limiting. Instead of designing something for what consumers would like, companies have to design bearing what the most prudish among us wouldn’t like.’
  • ‘These are the rules, and we’ll have to play by them. But we need to talk about the rules, their purpose, who sets them and how they’re enforced. And we need that conversation to include everyone in the alcohol industry.’
  • ‘One complaint can’t be the basis of this change. A system like that is open to abuse, which wastes our time, and that of the regulator, who have genuinely important stuff to be getting on with.’
  • ‘The Portman Group is meant to be a self-regulatory body, but we don’t see a “craft”, indie or micro brewery on the list of funders, consultants or the panel. Advice is from a massively limited cross-section of society. The voice of small brewers is only heard when they’re defending themselves.’
  • ‘This ruling requires us and our branding to evolve. We think it’s fair for us to ask the same of the regulator. And by speaking up and communicating publically [sic], we’re doing all we can to put the “self” in “self-regulation”.’
  • ‘This isn’t about us. This is about the defence of fun and creativity. We are only the beginning.’

Read the full statement here.


About Author

Chris Losh

After five years working on My Weekly magazine (during which time he learned how to write horoscopes and make things out of mince) in 1995 Chris Losh entered the world of drinks writing and, despite all advice from his doctor – and the wishes of most South African winemakers – has stayed there ever since. He began on Wine and Spirit International, editing it for several years before moving on to edit Wine Magazine. Both publications have since gone the way of the Dodo, but he claims to have nothing to do with their demise, and his alibi appears solid, since he was freelance writing for anyone who would pay him at the time. In 2007, he helped to set up both Imbibe magazine and the Sommelier Wine Awards, and has spent much of the last three years eating, drinking, and listening to French sommeliers talk about minerality. In 2009 he was shortlisted for the Louis Roederer Feature Writer of the Year, but didn’t win. Perhaps he should have stuck to horoscopes. And mince.

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