A complaint about Stiffy’s Jaffa Cake and Kola Kubez vodka liqueur products has been upheld by the Portman Group’s Independent Complaints Panel for inappropriately linking an alcohol product with sexual success.
The complaint was made by a drinks manufacturer which considered that the brand name Stiffy’s was an overtly sexual reference which is banned under the Portman Group Code.
In considering the complaint, the Panel noted that stiffy was a common slang term for an erection and considered that the brand name therefore had strong sexual connotations. The company, Stiffy’s Shots Ltd maintained that the brand name had been chosen because Stiffy was the nickname of a person involved in the development of the drink; it had not been chosen for its sexual connotations. The Panel acknowledged that while the company may not have deliberately set out to link the product with sexuality, the brand name alluded to sexual success and accordingly found the product in breach of the responsibility Code.
Henry Ashworth, Chief Executive of the Portman Group, which provides the secretariat for the Independent Complaints Panel, said:
It is totally inappropriate for alcohol marketing to allude to sexual success and following this ruling and our enforcement action, Stiffy’s products will be removed from sale in their current form. We would urge anyone who comes across examples of irresponsible alcohol marketing to complain immediately to the Portman Group.
Alcohol companies must be extremely vigilant about marketing their products responsibly and we encourage companies and their agencies to contact our fast, free and confidential advisory service which last year alone handled over 500 requests for advice.
The company, in consultation with the Portman Group’s Advisory Service, has now changed the brand name to Stivy’s.