Scottish Nationalist gin brand survives Portman Group scrutiny

A complaint against the Scottish National Party’s ‘YES’ Gin has not been upheld by the alcohol industry’s Independent Complaints Panel, the Portman Group.

The complaint, made by the Wine and Spirit Trade Association, took issue with YES Gin under two industry Code rules – firstly that the packaging did not communicate the alcoholic nature of the drink with absolute clarity, and secondly that it had a particular appeal to under-18s (respectively Code rules 3.1, 3.2(h)).

After considering the overall impression conveyed by the packaging, the Portman Panel noted that, while some elements could have been presented more clearly, such as the alcohol by volume of 40%, the packaging in its entirety conveyed several positive cues that alcohol was present.

In a new precedent for the rule, the Panel stated that decisions under Code rule 3.1 should be ‘practical and proportionate’ and that while the drink’s ABV presentation was unlikely to comply with relevant labelling legislation regarding one element, for the purposes of the Code, there was additional clear, sufficient information to determine that the product was alcoholic.

These included the word ‘Gin’, reference to unit content and other alcohol health related information, which on balance sufficiently communicated the drink’s alcoholic nature with absolute clarity. As it found nothing else on the packaging to cause consumer confusion, the Panel therefore did not uphold the complaint under Code rule 3.1.

With reference to rule 3.2(h) regarding particular appeal to children, the Panel noted that the word ‘YES’ was displayed on the front and back of the packaging in block capitals and bright colours, but said that this alone did not constitute a particular appeal to under-18s.

The Panel also noted that the bottle shape was typical for gin, and the rest of the label was simple in design and did not include elements such as cartoon imagery, thick bold lines or sweet flavours which could appeal to children. That complaint was therefore not upheld under Code rule 3.2(h).

Commenting, Panel Chair Nicola Williams said: “Producers should always ensure that product information is clearly displayed on packaging and is readable to consumers. They should also consider how bright colours could appeal to children.

“In this case, it was clear from the overall impression of the product it was an alcoholic drink and did not have a particular appeal to children.”