MixPixie agrees to discontinue Prescription Gin and work with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service to design a new label, after a complaint against the product was upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel). A copy of the full decision is available here.
The complaint was made by a member of the public and was upheld on two counts, namely for encouraging irresponsible, and immoderate consumption and suggesting the product had therapeutic qualities.
The Panel noted that the bottle was designed to look like prescription medicine, in that the shape of the bottle, the name ‘prescription gin’ and the green cross displayed on the front of the bottle was an exact replica of a pharmacy cross in the UK.
The Panel also discussed concerns regarding text on the product which stated “Take ONE swig before each exam. GOOD LUCK!”. The Panel considered that this encouraged the consumer to drink before an exam, which could have serious consequences on both the individual and people around them.
Furthermore, the Panel stated it was irresponsible to imply that an alcoholic drink was something to be prescribed or suggest that it could make an individual feel ‘better’. The Panel also noted that the front label included the warning ‘possible side effects’ one of which was ‘giddiness’. The Panel noted this implied that a certain level of alcohol would have been consumed. The Panel therefore concluded that the product encouraged irresponsible and immoderate consumption of alcohol and breached Code rule 3.2(f).
Additionally, the product implied a link between consumption and curing physical and mental ailments. On the front of the bottle it stated, “POSSIBLE SIDE EFFECTS: MAY INCLUDE EXTREME RELAXATION, GIDDINESS AND HAPPINESS.” The Panel therefore concluded there was a clear suggestion the product had therapeutic qualities and breached Code rule 3.2(j).
Commenting on the decision, the Chair of the Independent Complaints Panel, Nicola Williams, said: “It is wholly irresponsible to present an alcoholic drink as prescription medication and suggest that consumption of it can cure mental and physical ailments. In this case, the product also created a link to irresponsible and immoderate consumption which was particularly concerning when the product was encouraging consumption based on health grounds. Caution must be exercised with tongue in cheek marketing so that it does not breach the Code”.
The complaint was not upheld against three other Code rules that: the alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity – 3.1; a drink should not suggest any association with bravado, violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behaviour – 3.2(b); and should not have a particular appeal to under-18s – 3.2(h). The Panel noted:
- The bottle referenced gin six times and the label clearly stated the alcoholic strength of the product (3.1 – nature of alcoholic drink);
- There was no evidence the product had an association with dangerous behaviour (3.2(b) – dangerous behaviour);
- Given the product had sparkles in the gin, it could appear toy-like and therefore warranted further discussion under this Code rule. However, the Panel noted that neither the sparkles nor the overall appearance of the bottle possessed a particular appeal to under-18s as the sparkles were not the dominant feature of the product, nor did the product have childish imagery, sweet flavours, contrast colours or childish font, and therefore did not breach Code rule (3.2(h) – particular appeal to under-18s).
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