Box Nightclub Breaches Drinks Code
05 June 2014
The Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) that administers the Northern Ireland Responsible Promotion and Retail of Alcohol Code has upheld a complaint against nightclub owners Utopian Leisure, which operates The Box nightclub in Belfast.
The Independent Complaints Panel received a complaint in which concerns were expressed that the ‘LOKO’ promotion and the associated strapline ‘S**T’s ABOUT TO GET CRAZY’ encouraged irresponsible consumption of alcohol and the language used was offensive.
The ICP considered the promotion in light of the Joint Industry Code for the Responsible Promotion & Retail of Alcohol in Northern Ireland and highlighted parts 2 & 3 of the Code, where it states, inter alia, that:
- No alcohol promotion in Northern Ireland will: ‘condone or encourage illegal, excessive or irresponsible drinking such as binge drinking, drunkenness or drink-driving, nor refer in any favourable manner to the effects of intoxication’ (page 2, bullet point 1).
- No alcohol promotion in Northern Ireland will: ‘be disrespectful of contemporary, prevailing standards of taste and decency or degrade or gratuitously offensive through images, symbols, figures and innuendo.’ (page 3, bullet point 11).
Having considered the available information and following representations from the nightclub owners, the Independent Complaints Panel has upheld the complaint and found that the nightclub breached the Joint Industry Code for the Responsible Promotion & Retail of Alcohol in Northern Ireland.
The ICP concluded:
- The use of the word ‘LOKO’ as the name of the promotion and when used with the accompanying strapline ‘S**T’s ABOUT TO GET CRAZY’ was offensive and condoned or encouraged irresponsible drinking.
- The term ‘S**T’S ABOUT TO GET CRAZY’ was offensive and condoned and encouraged the irresponsible drinking.
The ICP notes that the nightclub owner has ceased the promotion and fully cooperated with the enquiry process.
Duncan McCausland, chair of the Independent Complaints Panel overseeing the code, said:
“Following a detailed process, the Independent Complaints Panel has upheld the complaint against Utopian Leisure operating as The Box nightclub.
“Whilst we acknowledge that promotions can play an important marketing role in driving business and attracting customers, it remains the responsibility of every licensee to ensure their promotions do not encourage the irresponsible consumption of alcohol, or offend anyone.
“Alcohol is a product that must be enjoyed responsibly and licensees should be aware and accepting of the fact that they have a duty to encourage a responsible attitude towards alcohol on their premises. I would like to point out that The Box nightclub has been compliant throughout the process and has already ceased running this promotion.”
The Joint Industry Code for the Responsible Promotion and Retail of Alcohol in Northern Ireland (2012), which aims to address the current attitude and culture in Northern Ireland in terms of alcohol misuse and abuse, applies to all suppliers and retailers of alcohol in Northern Ireland. It has been developed with the support of the Minister for Social Development, Nelson McCausland as well as the representative bodies of the drinks industries in Northern Ireland. It is hoped that compliance with the code will eventually become a condition of the granting or renewal of both liquor and entertainment licenses across Northern Ireland.
Utopian Leisure, who operate The Box nightclub, have been notified of the decision and in line with the terms of the code, the panel has also alerted local PSNI and Belfast City Council of its decision.
Full details of the Responsible Retailing Code can be found at www.responsibleretailingcodeni.org