A complaint about the packaging of Mr Gladstone’s Curious Emporium product range not being clearly labelled as containing alcohol, and having particular appeal to under-18s, has been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel).  A copy of the full decision can be read here.

The complainant, a member of the public, believed that as the product wasn’t obviously alcoholic, was reminiscent of Mr Magorium from the popular children’s movie Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, and was themed around a sweet shop it was likely to appeal particularly to under-18s, thus breaching the Portman Group Code under rules 3.1 and 3.2(h).

The Panel discussed the packaging of the product. It noted that the only indication the product contained alcohol on the front label was the ABV, which was hard to read on a shiny background. It considered the complainant’s belief that the character on the label resembled Mr Magorium but did not agree. The Panel noted that the different flavours were named after old fashioned sweets and that the rear label described a ‘confectionery emporium’. The Panel agreed that putting this product in the context of a sweet shop was likely to appeal particularly to under-18s, which was exacerbated by the label not making it clear that the product contained alcohol. Therefore, the Panel upheld the complaint under Code rules 3.1 and 3.2(h).

Secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, Kay Perry said:

‘‘Alcohol producers must ensure their products are clearly labelled as containing alcohol, and should avoid themes that may be enticing to young people. If a producer is unsure, the Portman Group Advisory Service is free and confidential. We are pleased that the producer has worked with the Advisory Service and agreed changes to the product packaging”.

Notes to editors:

  1. The full ruling from the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel) can be readhere and all complaint decisions made by the Panel are available on the Portman Group website.
  2. For a high resolution product image please contact the press office.
  3. The Portman Group’s Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks applies to all pre-packaged alcoholic drinks and the promotional activities of all drinks producers. A copy of the Code may be downloaded from the Portman Group website.
  4. The Panel, which hears complaints, is chaired by Jenny Watson. The other members of the Panel are: Rachel Childs, Claire Fowler, Daniel Jourdan, Graeme McKenzie, Professor Roy Light, Doreen McIntyre, Professor Isabel Szmigin and Elisabeth Ribbans. More information on the Panel can be found on the Portman Group website.
  5. Since the Code was introduced in 1996, the packaging and/or marketing of over 140 drinks have been found to breach the Code. In the case of a Code breach concerning a drink’s packaging or point-of-sale material, a timetable for implementing the necessary changes – not normally exceeding three months – will be supplied in writing to the company concerned. Retailers may be notified of the decision taken by the Independent Complaints Panel and requested not to replenish stocks or point-of-sale material of any product found in breach of the Code, after the date specified by the Code Secretariat.
  6. The Portman Group provides a free and confidential advisory service for alcohol producers to check products prior to launch and seek advice on responsible alcohol marketing. Over 2000 separate advice requests have been answered since 2010.  Email: advice@localhost.
  7. The Portman Group is the responsibility body for the alcohol industry. It is funded by its 9 member companies: AB InBev UK; Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands UK; SHS Drinks (formerly Beverage Brands UK); Carlsberg UK; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Molson Coors Brewing Company UK; Pernod Ricard UK; Mast-Jäegermeister UK.