An Independent Complaints Panel, under the Codes of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks, measured the severity of the situation.
The panel had to determine whether the packaging and branding of the Mr Gladstone's Curious Emporium range was too similar to imagery used in the children's film Mr Magorium's Wonder Emporium.
The panel discussed the packaging of the product and noted 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 also noted the different flavours were named after old-fashioned sweets and the real label described a ‘confectionery emporium’.
Appeal to under-18s
It also agreed that putting this product in the context of a sweet shop was likely to appeal to under-18s, which was exacerbated by the label not making it clear the product contained alcohol.
Therefore, the panel upheld the complaint under code rules 3.1 and 3.2(h).
The Portman Group said: “The alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on its packaging with absolute clarity.”
Independent Complaints Panel secretary 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."
She added: “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.”
According to the Portman Group, Kingsland Drinks explained it had used nostalgic rather than currently popular sweets to avoid engaging with under-18s, that no sweets were pictured on the labels and the branding was ‘steampunk’ themed, which is not targeting children.
It also said it was unaware of the Mr Magorium character or film when developing the brand, but having been made aware they did not consider there was a resemblance.
It added that it had sought the Portman Group’s advice and acted accordingly to adhere to best practice in alcohol social responsibility.
The Portman Group
The company has agreed changes to the product packaging in consultation with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service.
The Morning Advertiser (MA) made repeated calls to Kingsland Drinks, which makes Mr Gladstone’s Curious Emporium products, but had received no response at the time of publication.
Kingsland Drinks launched the range at the London Wine Fair last year. At the time, brand manager Hannah Kennedy told MA the product would be marketed at a younger audience as a 'fun' alternative to standard wine.
"We've been doing a lot of research and wanted something that was targeting a younger consumer – 21-plus," she explained.
"This brand doesn't take itself too seriously and makes the idea of drinking wine a little cooler.
"We're trying to take people back to their childhood and that's a really powerful tool for us, it's also a talking point."