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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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