Young In Spirit
23 August 2017
Considered under 5th Edition of the Code.
“Comments made…regards the anti-ageing properties such as Elixir of Youth on packaging clearly breach 3.2(j)” “I would like to complain about a new gin on the market, I believe it breaches your code suggesting it offers therapeutic and health and beauty benefits. – Member of the public (1)
“CollaGin is the product name, collagen.co.uk the website, @colla_gin on social media, #skinandtonic hashtag used on social media. On the front label of the bottle it says “the elixir of youth”…there is numerous social media posts suggesting this gin will make you more beautiful or younger looking, can alcohol do this I don’t think so very irresponsible and misleading.” – Member of the public (2)
Two members of the public
Under Code paragraph 3.2(j)
A drink, its packaging or promotion should not suggest that the product has therapeutic qualities or can enhance mental or physical capabilities.
The company’s submission
The company stated that ‘Skin & Tonic’ was not a health claim and did not imply a beauty claim. It also stated that ‘The Elixir of Youth’ was not a health claim or a ‘real’ thing. It provided the definition: ‘The elixir of life, also known as elixir of immortality and sometimes equated with the philosopher’s stone, is a mythical potion and supposedly grants the drinker eternal life and/or youth.’
The company stated that stories about the product in the media were not based on the company’s press materials and were outside the company’s control. They asserted that they had paid for neither PR nor advertising.
They stated that they were PR consultants and new to the industry and that they would like to work with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service to make changes to the product to bring it in line with the Code.
The Panel’s assessment
The Panel noted that the product’s label stated that it contained collagen, and the name of the product was a play on words combining collagen and gin. They considered that collagen is often associated with beauty or looking younger.
The Panel noted that material on social media and the company’s own website fell under the Advertising Standards Authority’s remit rather than the Portman Group. The Panel then noted that while media stories about the product were not necessarily under the control of the company, some stories featured quotes from the company which made therapeutic claims and had been retweeted via the company’s social media account. The Panel agreed that this created an atmosphere in which the drink was being associated with therapeutic effects and the company’s retweeting of stories was an endorsement of their content by the company.
The Panel went on to consider whether the label on its own created this link. They noted that the words or phrases ‘The Elixir of Youth’, ‘beauty drink’, ‘rejuvenating’, ‘anti-aging botanicals’ and ‘Skin & Tonic’ all appeared on the label, and that the bottle was reminiscent of a perfume bottle. The Panel agreed that the wording on the label suggested that the product had therapeutic effects.
The Panel also considered whether the word ‘collagen’ on its own suggested a therapeutic effect. They noted that drinks that contained a high caffeine content were obliged to state as much on their packaging, even though that ingredient is linked to a physiological effect. They noted that there was no such obligation with collagen. The Panel saw no objection to an ingredient list containing active ingredients providing this was in a purely informative way, was not given undue emphasis and through other text on the packaging neither directly or indirectly suggested the ingredients had therapeutic properties. On the basis that the product packaging contained several references to the beneficial effects of the active ingredient ‘collagen’ the Panel concluded that it should not appear on the product label in its current form.
The Panel also considered the product under rule 3.1
The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity.
The Panel noted that the product name could be misunderstood by some to be the word ‘collagen’ itself since people would not necessarily know how it was spelt. However the bottle also showed the word ‘Gin’, the front of the bottle showed the % vol and the rear of the bottle showed the number of units and pregnancy warning. On that basis they concluded that it did not breach rule 3.1.
As part of the company’s response to the provisional decision, it had offered to make changes to the product packaging. Whilst noting the company’s willingness to consult the Advisory Service, the Panel noted that when the Advisory Service had been consulted before about this product the advice given had not been followed. The Panel felt that the company had not presented any compelling reasons why the Panel should change its view in respect of the product. Accordingly, the Panel reaffirmed its previous decision as above.
Action by the Company
The company has contacted the Portman Group’s Advisory Service for guidance on appropriate changes to the product and packaging.