Prescription Gin offers the service to customise labels with a jokey prescription label with a customer specified name and dosage.
One example came to the attention of the trade organisation, the Portman Group, who act as drink label censors. The
customer specified dosage read:
Take ONE swig before each exam. GOOD LUCK!
The Portman Group went on to ban the label under two counts of its censorship rules:
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way encourage illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption, such as drink-driving, binge-drinking or drunkenness.
A drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest that the product has therapeutic qualities, can enhance mental or physical capabilities, or change mood or behaviour.
The drinks company, MixPixie, commented:
The company addressed the concern raised by the complainant that one of the bottles featured on its website included the front label text take one swig before each exam. Good
luck!. The company explained that the product was personalised and that this particular product had been ordered by a customer. The company explained that when a customer bought the product, they had to confirm that they were over 18 years of age.
Additionally, the company pointed out that when Royal Mail delivered its products, they could not hand it to anyone under-18. The company then stated that the complainant had presumed that this particular bottle was for a young person doing exams, but
that in reality, it was most likely that this order was for a mature student.
The company stated that to resolve this particular issue with the complaint, it had removed this photo from its product page.
Portman Group censor panel commented:
The Panel discussed the producer's formal response to the complaint and noted that the producer had stated that it could not be held responsible for what a customer chose to
include but that it had the ability to vet what had been written before sending the label to be printed and could contact the customer to change it or issue a refund if the proposed text was inappropriate for an alcoholic product. The Panel sought to
remind the producer that it did have responsibility for the entirety of the product, including the customisable element, as ultimately the producer could regulate the customisable content. The Panel noted that once the producer chose to incorporate the
customer's personalisation on the product, the product in its entirety became the responsibility of the producer as it had willingly, and knowingly, printed the label onto its branded product.
The Panel discussed whether the
product suggested that it had therapeutic qualities, could enhance mental or physical capabilities, or change mood or behaviour. The Panel considered that the product was deliberately, and overtly, designed to look like a prescription medicine and that
such medicines were synonymous with being used to cure and relieve physical and/or mental ailments. The Panel reiterated the points made during discussion under other Code rules and noted the usage of the exact replica of a pharmacy cross, small
medicinal bottle shape and medicinal liquid colour which, when combined, suggested that the product had therapeutic qualities. The Panel also noted that the front of the bottle stated, POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: MAY INCLUDE EXTREME RELAXATION, GIDDINESS AND
HAPPINESS. The Panel considered that this directly suggested that the product could help a consumer to relax and that it would also result in happiness after consumption. The Panel considered that these phrases also suggested that the product had a
therapeutic effect and that it could change someone's mood. The Panel therefore concluded that the product breached rule 3.2(j).