Is “Hit & Run” An Appropriate Name For A Rum? – Advertising, Marketing & Branding


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Medco Atlantic is the importer of Hit & Run rum. The rum,
imported from the Dominican Republic, is available in
typically-shaped bottles as well as in bottles shaped like baseball
bats.

A challenge to Medco Atlantic’s promotion of the product was
brought to the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States Code
Review Board. The DISCUS Code Review Board reviews distilled
spirits advertising for compliance with its Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol
Advertising and Marketing
.

The complainant argued that Medco Atlantic violated three
different provisions of the Responsible Content Provisions of the
Code:

  • Section B3 provides that, “Beverage alcohol advertising or
    marketing materials should not portray beverage alcohol being
    consumed by a person who is engaged in, or is about to engage in,
    any activity that is illegal or reuqires a high degree of alertness
    or physical coordination, such as driving a vehicle.”

  • Section C13 and C14 provide examples of “inappropriate
    content,” including “association with anti-social or
    dangerous behavior” and “depicts illegal activity of any
    kind.”

Specifically, the complainant argued that the brand name of the
product was inappropriate due to its association with drunk driving
and “hit and run” accidents. Apparently, the importer,
who is not a member of DISCUS, did not respond to the
complaint.

DISCUS considered the complaint and determined that the rum’s branding did not
violate the DISCUS Code. The Board wrote, “the packaging and
marketing materials solely suggested an association with baseball
and did not promote a connotation related to dangerous or illegal
activities. The Board did note, however, that the ‘Hit &
Run’ brand name for a distilled spirits product does contain
unfortunate alternate meanings and urged the advertiser to remain
diligent to ensure that the advertising and marketing around this
brand avoids any associations with dangerous or illegal
activities.”

One thing that was not clear to me from the DISCUS decision,
however, was whether the Board considered the use of the “Hit
& Run” name in connection with packaging that didn’t
have an association with baseball, such as this:

1325280a.jpg

When there’s no direct association with baseball, is there a
bigger risk that the name comes across as playing off the
association with drunk driving? Or, did DISCUS just feel that
generic references to “Hite & Run” were acceptable
because the name was susceptible to more than one meaning?

“the packaging and marketing materials solely
suggested an association with baseball and did not promote a
connotation related to dangerous or illegal
activities”

1325280b.jpg

The content of this article is intended to provide a general
guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
about your specific circumstances.

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