M&S gin falls foul of watchdog rules for its “appeal to under-18s”

M&S Spiced Sugar Plum and Clementine gins have come under fire after alcohol industry watchdog Portman Group ruled its light-up snow globe bottle design has “particular appeal to under-18s”.

The responsible alcohol regulator has upheld a complaint against Marks & Spencer for a pair of snow globe gin liqueurs it said were likely to appeal to children.

A complaint was made to the watchdog by a member of the public, who argued that both seasonal gin liqueurs had breached the watchdog’s rules on appealing to children.

The bottles were said to have breached two parts of the Portman Group’s Code of Practice – paragraph 3.1 (the alcoholic nature of a drink should be clear on the packaging) and paragraph 3.2(h), which says a drink, its packaging and any promotion should not appeal to under-18s in any way.

READ MORE: M&S sues Aldi over Christmas gin design

“I believe the light-up bottles of gin and other drinks being sold and prominently displayed by Marks and Spencer are in breach of Portman’s rules regarding appeal to children,” the complainant stated.

“These alcoholic drinks are being sold as a novelty which is against the principle of the Portman rules and are encouraging children to see them as a fun item.”

In response, M&S said that it took its responsibilities for marketing and selling alcohol very seriously and complied fully with the Code.

It also said the drinks’ names, colour, images, flavouring, gold/silver flakes and lighting had been designed to appeal to those over the age of 18. They specifically did not use any Christmas references which might have particular appeal to children, adding that “snow globes have mass appeal” and are not toys.

The light-up feature was designed to “enhance the premium nature of the product” and was not “a novelty, toy, or something that should be used by children”, it added.

The Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel considered the overall impression of the product but concluded that the product had a particular appeal to under-18s and upholding the complaint under Code rule 3.2(h).

The panel also upheld the complaint made under Code rule 3.1, as the ABV information was on a swing tag around the neck of the bottle which could be easily removed.

Marks & Spencer said it did not agree with “the panel’s interpretation under the code but, given their view, we will work with the Portman Group to make some changes to our gin globes in future”.

The Light Up gin range previously made headlines when M&S launched a legal claim against Aldi, saying the discounters gold flake gin was “strikingly similar” to its own gin range.

Click here to sign up to Grocery Gazette’s free daily email newsletter



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.



Sign up to our daily newsletter to get all the latest grocery news and insights direct to your inbox.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.