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Kingsland responds to "sweet-shop" labelling concerns

Published:  24 August, 2017

Mr Gladstone’s Curious Emporium product range has agreed to change its packaging after a ruling by drinks watchdog The Portman Group.

Owner of the brand, Kingsland Drinks, said that following a “single concern” raised with The Portman Group it has worked with its advisory service to address two specific labelling areas.

This will be effective from its next production.

The company will amend the front label by removing the foil behind the ABV, and change the ABV font to black to make it standout. It will also change the words “delicious fusion beverage” to “delicious alcoholic beverage”.

On the back label it will remove the word “Confectionary” so it reads “The extraordinary flavours from his Emporium are crafted together…”

The move came after a complaint was made by a member of the public, which accused the range of not being clearly labelled as containing alcohol and would appeal to under-18s.

The complainant believed that as the product was not obviously alcoholic it was reminiscent of Mr Magorium from the popular children’s movie Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium.

It also said that the products were themed around a sweet shop it was likely to appeal particularly to under-18s.

The panel noted that the only indication that the product contained alcohol on the front label was the ABV, which was hard to read.

However, it did not agree with the complainant’s belief that the character on the label resembled Mr Magorium. It did note that the different flavours were named after old-fashioned sweets and that the rear label described a ‘confectionery emporium’.

The panel agreed that putting this product in the context of a sweet shop was likely to appeal particularly to under-18s.

Kingsland explained that they had used nostalgic rather than currently popular sweets to avoid engaging with under-18s and that the branding was ‘steampunk’ themed, which is not targeting children.

The company also said it was unaware of the Mr Magorium character or film when developing the brand, but after being made aware they did not consider that there was a resemblance.

The panel expressed concern that sweet-tasting drinks branded more as confectionery, than as alcohol, could be seen as a soft introduction to alcohol by teenagers.

The panel also noted that, as part of the company’s response to the provisional decision, it had offered to make changes to the product packaging.

Secretary to the independent complaints panel, 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.

“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.”