Greene King has been cleared of encouraging binge drinking in its pubs after a complaint about a `buy three get one free` drinks promotion was not upheld by the Portman Group.
A member of the public complained to the regulatory body after seeing the promotion allowing customers to claim one free pint of beer if they bought three others in Greene King pubs.
The complainant said the offer `dented the aspiration of responsible drinking` because it may make a person drink more than wanted to claim a free drink. However, Portman`s Independent Complaints Panel disagreed because consumers were issued a collector`s card which enabled them to spread drinking over three or four separate visits to the pub.
“The Panel decided that nothing in the promotional material encouraged consumers to drink four pints in one session," said Portman chief executive David Poley.
"Our Code regulates drinks producer promotions including any run in conjunction with retailers. Producers should take account of our Help Note on on-trade promotions to avoid getting into difficulties. They can also promote responsibility through the supply chain by encouraging their business partners to follow our guidance.”
Greene King said it had run the two-week promotion in 400 of its pubs in January and the format of the promotion required staff to sign a collector card each time a customer bought a pint.
The company said that when they ran such promotions, they normally included a standard condition stating `a maximum of two signatures can be obtained per person per session`, but on this occasion the statement had been omitted from promotional material.
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