Woolworths Liquor Group will no longer sell “Duff” beer, which sports similar branding to the fictional lager in The Simpsons, after it was found to have breached the voluntary alcohol industry advertising code.
Noting the popularity of the long-running cartoon television series with children, the Alcohol Policy Coalition complained about the product to the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) adjudication panel in June, which upheld the complaint this week.
“The Simpsons series is well known and very popular with children and adolescents,” the panel wrote in its decision.
“The association of The Simpsons with the product name and packaging is so strongly entrenched in Australian popular culture that the name and packaging will draw the attention of under 18 year olds.”
The panel also noted that in 1995, the South Australian Brewing Company and Lion Nathan Australia launched and promoted a beer within Australia under the name Duff that was not sanctioned or licensed by the owners of the intellectual property in The Simpsons, 20th Century Fox.
The entertainment giant took Federal Court legal action to have the product removed from the marketplace, which proved successful.
The remaining merchandise became collectors’ items, with cartons selling for thousands of dollars in online auctions.
In its decision handed down on Tuesday, the ABAC panel said the appeal of the branding to youngsters was supported by both the Federal Court decision and the evidence before it from Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, who said an actual beer named Duff “might encourage children to drink alcohol”.
A Woolworths Liquor Group spokeswoman said it had in March received ABAC pre-vetter approval for Duff advertisements.
The beer, which is brewed in the US to the specifications of Woolworths Liquor Group’s exclusive brands division Pinnacle Liquor Group and is officially licensed by 20th Century Fox, was launched in May.
“We respect the panel’s adjudication and will discontinue the stock,” the spokeswoman said.
“We note that the ABAC adjudication panel states in its decision: `The panel accepts that the supplier (Woolworths Liquor Group) is committed to the standards of good alcohol beverage marketing contained in ABAC’.”