Gun-shaped packaging for Red Army Vodka by Poland-based Bartex Bartol breaches alcohol marketing rules established by responsibility body for UK drinks producers Portman Group on basis of packaging's association with violence and aggression

Elyse Blye

Elyse Blye

Apr 10, 2014 – Portman Group

LONDON , April 10, 2014 (press release) – The packaging of Bartex’s Red Army Vodka has breached alcohol responsibility rules for its association with violence and aggression.

A complaint, submitted by the Independent Complaints Panel of the Responsible Retailing Code of Northern Ireland, claimed the product was closely linked with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour.

In response to the complaint, Bartex stated the product was simply a glass bottle shaped as a gun, sold in a gift pack, and therefore had no association with weapons or violent behaviour. They later reiterated that it was not their intention to ‘create or promote violence’, stating the company produced alcohol, not weapons.

After considering the name, packaging and overall presentation of the product, the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel (ICP) concluded that the name Red Army, in the context of the packaging, together with the packaging itself, were entirely inappropriate for an alcoholic drink, as they suggested a direct association with violent and dangerous behaviour.

As a result, the ICP found the product to be in breach of Code paragraph 3.2(b).

Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, which provides the Secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said:

“Strict UK alcohol marketing rules specifically prohibit an alcoholic drink from being sold if it has any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour. On this occasion, the Panel ruled that the product name in the context of the packaging, together with the packaging itself, was too strongly linked to these themes. We therefore appeal to retailers not to stock the product its current packaging after 20 June.”

A Retailer Alert Bulletin has been issued instructing licensees and retailers not to place orders for stocks of Red Army Vodka in its current packaging after 20 June 2014.

Rulings made by the Panel are published in full on the Portman Group’s website and further details of the case together with the Retailer Alert Bulletin can be found here.

The complainant, the Independent Complaints Panel of the Responsible Retailing Code of Northern Ireland, have also issued a press release on the decision.

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