Slovakian advertisement for Spišský Jalovec, a spirit made from fermenting apples and junipers, in breach of Ethical Code on Advertising Practice

By Bibiana Mozoľová, Katarina Pfeffer


On 10 September 2015, the Slovak Advertisement Council (“SAC’) ruled that the Spišský Jalovec advertisement breached the Ethical Code on Advertising Practice (“Ethical Code”) valid in the Slovak Republic because alcohol advertisements should not state that alcohol acts as a stimulant or sedative nor that it has healing powers, and should not indicate that such effects are possible by its consumption (Art. 35 paragraph 2 of the Ethical Code).

An individual complaint was filed on 22 August 2015 by an entity in Poprad against the advertisement that was published in the Naše noviny magazine.

A short except of the advertisement states that:

“Old-New technologies are coming back to life with the new distillery in Poprad. The result is the delicious Spišský Jalovec. Juniper (Jalovec) (Juniperus communis) is a berry plant, typical of the Spiš and Tatras. A distillate using this crop was produced over 200 years ago by the world-famous distillery in Spišská Belá (Kleinberger). Cheers. Juniper is still used today in the production of oils, syrups, drugs and alcohol. Distillery ZIZAK, s.r.o. in Stážky under the Tatras brings Spišský Jalovec to the market thanks to the restoration of these old traditions and recipes for a pure spirit. The basic raw materials for the production of the spirit are apples and juniper berries. They are combined using the producers' secret ratio and method. After the whole procedure is completed a very gentle spirit with mixed fruit, forest and juniper aromas is produced. This is a drink that awakens us, producing a feeling that you are enjoying something both very pleasant and healing. It is a drink where you really can say - cheers, to our health and serve to all.”

The advertiser states that, in its opinion, the new product Jalovec is a unique product. It is a spirit made by a traditional recipe using the process of fermenting apple and juniper (jalovec). Subsequent distillation of such ferment without any modifications, additives and chemicals produces a unique alcohol, which used to be the world's best, manufactured at least 60 years ago. All advertising and promotional materials talk of juniper. "Juniperus" grows as a forest shrub. It has historic healing effects still recognised today, and from it oils, juices and a variety of food products can be made. It is known worldwide and is rare and expensive on the market. The advertisement further states that the distillery is trying to restore the tradition of alcohol production by using the crop. The advertiser also points out that 200 years ago in Spišská Belá on Spiš there was a world-famous distillery which exported juniper and blueberry products worldwide.

The Arbitration Commission examined the complaint, the opinion of the advertiser and the evidence. On the basis of the available facts and information, the Commission reached the following conclusions.

It was held that the aim of the advertisement was to promote the advertiser's product - the alcoholic drink Spišský Jalovec. The advertiser described the production process but also explicitly stated that it is a drink "(...) which arouses in us the feeling that you are enjoying something both very pleasant and healing. It is a drink where you really can say - cheers, to our health and serve to all." The Commission said that the text clearly claimed the alcohol has therapeutic effects and therefore such communication could not be considered to be in accordance with the requirements of the Ethical Code for alcoholic beverages.

The Arbitration Commission called for a change or adjustment to the advertisement/article in question and a prohibition on its further dissemination.