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Drinks firms rapped over sexual imagery and marketing to under-18s

LONDON - Two drinks companies have landed themselves in trouble with the drinks industry body, including the makers of a new alcopop that contained the word 'Spiked', which was said to indirectly associate the product with drink spiking.

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The Portman Group's independent complaints panel upheld a complaint that Mickey Finn's Spiked Sour Apple & Moonshine Schnapps, made by BABCO Europe, was likely to have a particular appeal to under-18s because of its combination of a worm/apple cartoon, the word "spiked" and the green colour of the product itself.

The panel also ruled that parts of the website promoting Dooley's Original Toffee & Vodka liqueur, part of United Brands, suggested an association with sexual success, due to explicit pictures of nude couples embracing and the use of sexually aggressive cocktail names.

The panel, however, did not uphold the complaint that the website encouraged the irresponsible consumption of alcohol or that the product's packaging had a particular appeal to under-18s.

The breaches come just after the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice announced that a consultation has been launched on advertising alcohol on television and radio, looking at the new guidance notes on sexual relationships and the new Ofcom rules on health and dietary claims.

The Portman Group said the producers of Mickey Finn's Schnapps have agreed to remove the word 'spiked' from the product name and the worm/apple from the label.

Jean Coussins, Portman Group chief executive, said: "United Brands has too acknowledged that some parts of the Dooley's website are not appropriate and has agreed to remove the offending images and to replace the sexually suggestive cocktail names.

"We would strongly recommend that all companies seek advice before launching a new product or promotional materials. The code and the advisory service are there to ensure that new alcoholic drinks are marketed responsibly."

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