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Au Vodka axes gun-shaped product after complaint

British brand Au Vodka has discontinued its gun-shaped merchandise after a complaint was upheld by the UK’s alcohol industry regulator.

Au Vodka
Au Vodka’s merchandise was reprimanded for its similarity to a firearm

Trade body the Wine and Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) submitted the complaint against the vodka brand’s Gold Gang Money Gun merchandise to the Portman Group.

The Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) considered whether the branded merchandise had a direct association with violent, aggressive, dangerous and illegal behaviour under Code rule 3.2b, and if it caused serious or widespread offence (Code rule 3.3).

The panel noted that the merchandise had a handle and trigger mechanism, similar to a firearm, while its shape also replicated a gun. It also ‘fired’ money from where bullets would usually be discharged.

In response, Au Vodka said the merchandise was primarily used in nightclubs and in other party environments as a ‘fun novelty piece’.

The company noted that the product had gained widespread popularity, suggesting that consumers saw it as harmless and inoffensive. Au Vodka explained that this perception supported the view that the merchandise did not create a link with violent or aggressive behaviour.

Despite the brand changing the name of the product to ‘money sprayer’, the panel believed the move did not address its concern with the fundamental design of the merchandise or its association with a real firearm.

As such, the panel concluded that the product’s features had an indirect association with violent and aggressive behaviour due to its similarity to a firearm.

However, the ICP did not uphold the complaint that it caused serious or widespread offence as it believed most consumers would view it as a novelty item.

‘Wholly inappropriate’ 

ICP chair Nicola Williams said: “Alcohol and guns do not mix, and producers must always avoid such scenarios.

“Whilst the panel noted that not all ‘guns’ are intrinsically linked to firearms, there were numerous aspects about this product which, combined, displayed similarities with a real-life firearm and any association between a firearm and an alcoholic drink is wholly inappropriate.”

In a similar ruling last month, the Portman Group upheld a complaint against Cosa Nostra Scotch Whisky, which comes in a gun-shaped bottle. As such, retailers were asked to stop selling the product.

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