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Complaint against Zymurgorium gin liqueurs quashed

The Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel (Panel) has not upheld a complaint against Zymurgorium gin liqueurs that claimed the packaging would appeal to under-18s.

The complaint stated the two gin liqueurs could be mistaken for children’s bubble bath

The complaint was made against Realm of the Unicorn Premium Gin Based Liqueur and Flagingo Electric Blue & Scottish Raspberry Gin Liqueur concerning the products’ appearance and appeal to under 18s.

The complainant stated: “This drink looks as if it’s aimed at children. It should not be sold in such packaging or with the pearlised effect of the product. Very concerning. I actually thought it was little girls’ bubble bath.”

The Code of Practice for the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks seeks to ensure that alcohol is promoted in a socially responsible way, only to those aged 18 and over, and in a way that does not appeal particularly to those who are vulnerable.

Under Code paragraph 3.2(h) it is stated: “A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way have a particular appeal to under-18s.”

Zymurgorium stated that the Flagingo Electric Blue and Scottish Raspberry Gin product was based on 1970s and 1980s rock and roll. It argued that an older generation of rock and roll fans, and those familiar with acts such as AC/DC, Pink Floyd, David Bowie, Metallica, Def Leppard and Guns N’ Roses, would identify with the artwork.

In relation to the Realm of the Unicorn Premium Gin Liqueur, the company explained that unicorns had featured in literature for thousands of years and had broad appeal among all age groups given their symbolism. On this basis, the company said it did not believe unicorns had a particular appeal to children.

The company highlighted three previous cases considered by the Panel regarding Firebox’s Unicorn Tears products, which it ruled on in 2019, and noted the Panel acknowledged that unicorn imagery ‘could hold a broad appeal for all age groups, given their symbolism’.

Zymurgorium also stated that neither product would be confused with a child’s bubble bath, as it was clearly identifiable as an alcoholic product with the descriptor ‘gin based liqueur’ in black capitalised font on the bottle, and that the ABV of 20% was in bold, black, capitalised text and was in a hexagon shape in order to stand out from the rest of the label.

In addition, the side of the label contained relevant regulatory information including the UK pregnancy warning, a reference to alcohol units and a link to the Drinkaware website.

No breach of regulations

The Panel concluded the products and overall appearance – the adult style of the artwork, the 70s and 80s rock and roll music themes, the sophisticated fine line drawing of the unicorn, colouring and shimmer effect of the liquid – were unlikely to have a particular appeal to under-18s and therefore were not in breach of the code.

Commenting on the decision, the chair of the Panel, Nicola Williams, said: “Appearance and design are important features of many alcoholic products, particularly when considered alongside other elements on packaging that emphasise and tell a brand story. In the case of these products the overall appearance and messaging were not considered to have a particular appeal to under-18s.”

This week the Portman Group updated its guidelines for alcohol labels to include the low-risk drinking recommendations set by the UK’s chief medical officers.

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