London, 24 August 2023: A complaint made by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association against AU Vodka Gold Gang Money Gun has been upheld by the alcohol industry’s Independent Complaints Panel (Panel). A copy of the full decision is available here.
A complaint was made under one Code rule which raised concerns that the branded merchandise had a direct association with violent, aggressive, dangerous and illegal behaviour (Code rule 3.2b). During discussion, the Panel also discussed whether the Gold Gang Money Gun caused serious or widespread offence (Code rule 3.3).
The Panel noted that the gun had a handle and trigger mechanism which were consistent with the design of a firearm. The Panel also found that the shape of the gun appeared to be based on a firearm weapon, including how it would be held by a consumer and that it ‘fired’ money from where bullets would typically be fired. Despite the company changing the name of the product to ‘money sprayer’, the Panel considered that this did not address its concern with the fundamental design of the merchandise or the link it created to a real-life firearm. All these features of the branded merchandise created an indirect association with violent and aggressive behaviour because of the inherent similarities between the design of the money gun and a real-life firearm. Therefore, the Panel upheld the complaint under Code rule 3.2(b).
Regarding Code rule 3.3, the Panel noted that while the design and function of the AU Vodka Gold Gang Money Gun created an indirect association with dangerous and violent behaviour, it did not directly promote gun crime or criminal activity and considered that most consumers would recognise it was a novelty item designed to spray money. Therefore, the Panel did not uphold the complaint under Code rule 3.3.
Commenting on the decision, the Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, 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.”
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