Fok Hing Gin warned over offensive branding

12 November, 2021

Fok Hing Gin has fallen foul of the industry-funded UK drinks industry watchdog for using offensive language.

The brand takes inspiration from a street in Hong Kong called Fuk Hing. A company called Incognito Group Ltd changed it to Fok Hing and launched it in the UK market.

A member of the public complained to the Portman Group, which is funded by AB InBev, Asahi, Aston Manor Cider, Bacardi, Brown-Forman, Campari, C&C, Diagero, Heineken, Marc Anthony Brands, Mast-Jägermeister, Pernod Ricard, SHS Drinks and Thatchers.

The complainant said the brand could cause serious and widespread offence. “The name of the product is clearly intended to shock and be pronounced as an offensive term,” said the complaintaint in a statement. “Marketing comments I’ve seen online include Fokthehaters and those who don’t like the name name(sic) can FOK OFF. 

“So despite claims this is a Hong Kong language term meaning good luck – it’s obvious the intention is to shock and offend those who find swearing undesirable and unacceptable.”

The Portman Group’s independent complaints panel sided with the complainant. The company will now work on a rebrand.

“It is not appropriate for marketing materials to purposefully link a name to profanity and no responsible marketing should cause serious or widespread offence,” said panel chair Nicola Williams.

Incognito Group said: “We strive to be a brand that celebrates the language, culture and heritage of Hong Kong. We are grateful by our UK consumers who have warmly welcomed us into their gin collection, and we are delighted to continue serving the market.

“Through consultation with the Portman Group, we have agreed to update the reverse label to be more descriptive of the details that inspired our brand, and look forward to introducing our UK fans to a little bit of Hong Kong history whilst they enjoy Fok Hing Gin during the forthcoming festive season and beyond.”

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