UNICORN TEARS GIN LIQUEUR, UNICORN TEARS RASPBERRY GIN LIQUEUR AND UNICORN TEARS RASPBERRY GIN LIQUEUR MINIATURE

16/04/2019

16th April 2019

UNICORN TEARS GIN LIQUEUR, UNICORN TEARS RASPBERRY GIN LIQUEUR AND UNICORN TEARS RASPBERRY GIN LIQUEUR MINIATURE

Recent complaints about three Firebox products - Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur, Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur and Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur Miniature - have been upheld by the Independent Complaints Panel. A copy of the decisions can be read here.

On Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur:

The complainant, a member of the public, said the images on the product appealed to children. The Panel noted the illustration of the unicorn had the appearance of a child’s drawing and would not be out of place as a logo on a child’s toy, in a colouring book, or on an item of children’s clothing.  When considering the overall impression conveyed by the product, including the unicorn logo and childlike typeface, the Panel considered that the product did have a particular appeal to under 18s, and accordingly upheld the product under Code Rule 3.2(h).

On Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur:

The complainant, the Portman Group, acting in lieu of a member of the public, thought that the use of a unicorn on the product appeals to under 18s and in particular, the front packaging with a cartoon like unicorn on a pink background, appeals to young girls.

The Panel acknowledged that the use of Candurin® to give the product a sparkly and shimmery appearance could create a strong appeal to young girls. Furthermore, the Panel noted that the unicorn illustration had the appearance of a child’s drawing and would not be out of place as a logo on a child’s toy, in a colouring book, or an item of children’s clothing. 

In conclusion, when considering the overall impression conveyed by the product, including the unicorn logo, childlike typeface and sparkly pink liquid colour, the Panel considered that the product did have a particular appeal to under 18s and accordingly upheld under Code Rule 3.2(h).

Finally, with regard to the text on the back label, which included the sentence ‘swirl to unleash their magical powers’, the Panel discussed the overall impression conveyed by the product and concluded that this sentence was being used in reference to the shimmer of the liquid as opposed to suggesting that the product had ‘magical powers’ and accordingly did not uphold the product under Code Rule 3.2(j).

On Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur Miniature:

The complainant, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, raised concerns that the images used on the bottles appealed to children since the bottle size and shape was similar to that of a nail varnish bottle, the cartoon unicorn design and the sparkly baby pink colour of the liquid would appeal to children.

The Panel acknowledged that although pink gin had become a popular addition to the gin category in recent years, the miniature product contained Candurin® to give the product a sparkly and shimmery appearance and this could create a strong level of appeal to young girls. The Panel noted the illustration of the unicorn had the appearance of a child’s drawing and would not be out of place as a log on the child’s toy, in a colouring book or on an item of children’s clothing.

In conclusion, when considering the overall impression conveyed by the product, including the unicorn logo, childlike typeface, sparkly pink liquid colour and cosmetic-like appearance of the bottle, the Panel considered that the product did have a particular appeal to under 18s and accordingly upheld the product under Code Rule 3.2(h).

Finally, the panel agreed that the words ‘Gin Liqueur’ and the product’s ABV could have been communicated in larger text on the front of the label given that the product packaging was unconventional and was likely to have a particular appeal to under 18s. It was the view of the Panel that the product had the potential to cause consumer confusion as to its alcoholic nature and the Panel therefore did not believe that this had been communicated with absolute clarity within the spirit of the Code, particularly when considered alongside the unicorn logo, childlike typeface, sparkly pink liquid colour and cosmetic-like appearance. The Panel accordingly upheld the product under Code paragraph 3.1.

Commenting on the Panel’s decision regarding Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur Miniature, Miles Beale, Chief Executive of the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, said: “British gin is a product we should champion, protect and be proud of. We want our innovative spirit makers to have the chance to grow the category and create new products meeting consumer demand. At the same time, it is extremely important that standards of marketing and presentation, recognised by the industry through the Portman Group, are adhered to in order to ensure these drinks are sold responsibly.”

Firebox is now working with the Advisory Service to amend the label on these three products.

Commenting on the three decisions by the Independent Complaints Panel, Kristian Bromley, Managing Director of Firebox said: “Although we were disappointed with the Portman Group decision, it is also perfect timing as we are changing the direction of our Unicorn Tears Gin and Mythical Spirits range. We are more than happy to work with The Portman Group on the relaunch. Unicorn Tears Gin will be re-launching in the summer of 2019 with a fresh new look and refined recipe.”

Commenting on the three decisions by the Independent Complaints Panel, a Portman Group spokesperson said: “These decisions by the Independent Complaints Panel highlight once again that producers should steer away from using imagery in marketing and labelling that could be seen in children’s books or toys or clothing. They should think carefully about what is conveyed by the overall impression of the product and speak to our advisory service if in any doubt.”

ENDS

For more information please contact:


Melanie Woodnick
Interim Director of External Affairs
0207 290 1463 or 07719 324021 or mwoodnick@portmangroup.org.uk

Notes to editors:

  1. The full rulings from the Independent Complaints Panel (Panel) can be read here. All complaint decisions made by the Panel are available on the Portman Group website.
  2. 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 here
  3. This complaint was considered under the fifth edition of the Code of Practice. The sixth edition of the Code was published on 4th March and will come into full effect on 23rd September 2019. Complaints received after 23rd September will be subject to the rules in the sixth edition.
  4. The Panel, which hears complaints, is chaired by Jenny Watson CBE. The other members of the Panel are: David Macdonald, Angela McNab, Rosalie Weetman, Jon Collins, Graeme Mckenzie, Claire Fowler, Daniel Jourdan and Rachel Childs. More information on the Panel can be found here.
  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@portmangroup.org.uk.
  7. The Portman Group is the alcohol industry regulator.  It is funded by its eight member companies: AB InBev UK; Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands UK; Carlsberg UK; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Mast-Jäegermeister UK; Molson Coors Brewing Company UK; Pernod Ricard UK.
  8. Images of Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur, Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur and Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur Miniature are available on request.