The Portman Group’s Independent Complaint Panel upheld complaints about three Firebox products – Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur, Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur and Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur Miniature.
Regarding Unicorn Tears Gin Liqueur, a member of the public argued that the illustration of the unicorn on the bottle would appeal to children.
The panel deliberated that the picture had the appearance of a child’s drawing and could work as a logo on a child’s toy, in a colouring book or on an item of children’s clothing – as such, the complaint was upheld for having a particular appeal to under-18s.
Secondly, the trade group upheld a complaint against Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur, deciding the use of a unicorn appealed to under-18s – and that the cartoon-like unicorn on a pink background – would have particular appeal to young girls.
Furthermore, the panel also deemed the use of Candurin – which gives the liqueur a sparkly appearance – could appeal to young girls.
However, the board did not believe the line “swirl to unleash their magical powers” on the back of the label was suggestive of the liqueur giving the drinker “magic powers”, but was a reference to the shimmer of the liquid when swirled.
The Wine & Spirit Trade Association (WSTA) also voiced its concerns regarding the Unicorn Tears Raspberry Gin Liqueur Miniature.
Defending the backlash, Kristian Bromley, managing director of Firebox, told of his disappointment in hearing the criticism the brand has received, but said he is happy to relaunch the spirit with a “fresh new look”.
“Although we are 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," said Bromley.
“We are more than happy to work with The Portman Group on the relaunch of Unicorn Tears Gin and will be relaunching in the summer of 2019 with a fresh new look and refined recipe.”
The WSTA was also concerned that the bottle size and shape was similar to a nail varnish bottle, and feared that, combined with the cartoon unicorn design and the “sparkly baby pink colour of the liquid”, it would appeal to a younger generation.
Due to a combination of the unicorn logo, “childlike” typeface, sparkly pink liquid and “cosmetic-like” appearance, the panel ruled that the product could appeal to under-18s.
A spokesperson for The Portman Group revealed its decision behind the ruling: “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.”
Last month, a complaint that two other Firebox products – Pixie Tears Gin and Flamingo Tears Gin – could appeal to children was not upheld by The Portman Group.