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Nanny Censors


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Drinks mafia...

The Portman Group bans packaging for a Scotch whisky bottle shaped like a gun

Link Here16th July 2023
The alcohol tradeassociation, the Portman Group, banned packaging for Cosa Nostra Scotch Whisky produced by Bartex Bartol.

The group report a breach of guidelines, namely that drinks should not suggest any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behaviour

Bartex Bartol did not submit a response to the complaint.

The Portman Group Panel's Assessment: Complaint upheld

Rule 3.2(b):

A drink it's packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest any association with bravado or with violent aggressive, dangerous anti-social or illegal behaviour.

Rule 3.3:

A drink's name, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not cause serious or widespread offence.

The Panel discussed whether the packaging of Cosa Nostra Scotch Whisky suggested any association with violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behaviour. The Panel reviewed the shape of the bottle as the product's primary packaging and observed that it was a replica of a Thompson submachine gun, known as a Tommy Gun, which the Panel determined created a direct link between the drink and a dangerous weapon. The Panel considered that a Tommy Gun was often used in depictions of historical organised crime syndicates, and while a Tommy Gun was not a contemporary gun, the average consumer would recognise it as a firearm. Therefore, the Panel considered that the shape of the bottle created a clear link between the drink and a dangerous weapon which was wholly inappropriate for an alcoholic drink.

The Panel then discussed the drink's name, Cosa Nostra, and noted that the Cosa Nostra were a well-known faction of the Italian Mafia, an organised crime group renowned for engaging in violent behaviour and illegal activities. The Panel noted that text included on the packaging stated post proelia praemia which translated in English to after the battle, comes the reward, further compounding the association between the drink, violent behaviour and the glamorisation of criminal activity.

The Panel noted that the gun-shaped product came packaged in a large box which included the product name, an image of the primary packaging inside, imagery of two Tommy Guns crossed over each other and images of bullet holes on the box. The Panel noted that this further emphasised the product's direct link to violent behaviour and the glamourisation of criminal activity.

Considering the overall impression of the primary and secondary packaging, the Panel concluded that the name, the gun shape packaging and the language used all created a direct association with violent, aggressive, dangerous and illegal behaviour which glamourised crime and mafioso culture. Accordingly, the Panel upheld the complaint under code riule 3.2(b)

In light of the above, the Panel considered whether the drinks packaging could cause serious or widespread offence. The Panel discussed the association created between the drink and Cosa Nostra, a real-life criminal organisation. The Panel discussed that the average consumer would be aware of the Cosa Nostra given it was still a contemporary group, and one which was intrinsically linked with extreme violence, aggression, and criminal activity. The Panel stated that those who were directly affected by the violence perpetrated by the syndicate would consider packaging glamourising the Cosa Nostra seriously offensive.

The Panel also considered that the packaging created a clear link between an alcohol drink and a firearm. In the context of rising gun crime in the UK, the Panel considered that the packaging was also likely to cause serious and widespread offence, particularly to communities in which gun crime was an ongoing serious issue. Accordingly, the complaint was upheld under Code rule 3.3.



Censors in a sour mood...

Portman group whinges about the blurb for Engine gin

Link Here30th April 2023
The Portman Group is a trade body representing the drinks industry. It takes it on itself the job of censoring drinks labels and associated marketing. It has recently investigated the packaging for Engine Gin, an Italian organic gin sold in packaging resembling an oil can.

A complainant with a chip on the shoulder about drink driving objected to the drink's reference to cars and driving:

I have stumbled across Engine gin on my recent Tesco shop and I am shocked and appalled about its design and open link to driving. The oil can design plus using phrases like fuel the dream are highly inappropriate and not something the alcohol industry should be doing.

The packaging is designed to replicate an oil can and not an alcoholic drink. The website and online material only continues this message and is pushing a fuel for car performance rather than an alcoholic brand. The engine logo on the front of the can also reflects a car performance drink rather than a gin.

I alongside thousands others have been directly impacted by drink driving incidents and to see this brand lean into it and openly encourage links to driving throughout the brand is disgusting. I believe this brand to be linking itself to driving and therefore a link to drink driving, the use of an oil can and car imagery is not something that a brand should be able to do as well as being very irresponsible.

The packaging is also very gimmicky and looks to be targeting a younger market and looks more like a toy than an alcoholic brand

In response the Portman Group dismissed parts of the complaint saying that the packaging was clearly an alcoholic drink, did not encourage drink driving and did not appeal to children. However the censors did object to trivial wording in the blurb on the back of the package. The censors wrote:

The Panel discussed whether any part of the packaging of Engine Organic Gin suggested the drink had therapeutic qualities, could enhance mental or physical capabilities, or change mood and behaviour. The Panel considered that the line fuel the dream was fairly ambiguous in its meaning when considered in isolation and could imply that consumption of the drink could help a consumer achieve a dream. The Panel noted that the back label included the sentence sage and lemon is a traditional remedy to cure a sour mood. The Panel discussed the wording and noted that it directly suggested that consumption of the drink could cure a consumer's bad mood by incorporating these ingredients, thus changing an individual's mood. The Panel was particularly concerned that the suggestion of a cure could directly appeal to those with poor mental health who may be more susceptible to substance misuse and concluded it was inappropriate for an alcoholic drink to directly suggest that it could provide a therapeutic quality. The Panel considered this wording alongside the line fuel the dream and considered that the elements combined also suggested the drink had a therapeutic quality. The Panel therefore concluded that the product packaging suggested the drink could change mood and had a therapeutic quality, and upheld the complaint under Code rule 3.2(j).

Action by Company: Made amends to product packaging to bring in line with the Code.

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