Hong Kong gin brand’s name ruled offensive in UK

  • The name Fok Hing Gin ‘is clearly intended to shock’, said a complainant to a UK trade body, which agreed it was inappropriate to link a name to a profanity

  • ‘We strive to be a brand that celebrates the language, culture and heritage of Hong Kong,’ the gin’s maker said, pointing out it was named after a city street

(SCMP) – A brand of Hong Kong gin has come under scrutiny from the British drinks industry watchdog after it was deemed offensive.

Fok Hing Gin, produced by Incognito Group, came under scrutiny from the Portman Group – a trade body composed of alcoholic beverage producers and brewers in Britain – after a complaint from a member of the public who is a licensing officer.

“The name of the product is clearly intended to shock and be pronounced as an offensive term,” the person making the complaint said.

“Personally I wouldn’t want to see this product on family supermarket shelves or being promoted in an environment where children have access – such as most social media sites.”

The complaint was made in relation to rule 3.3 – that a drink’s name, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not cause serious or widespread offence, according to a statement on the Portman Group website.

It is the first time a complaint about a drink’s name has been upheld in relation to causing serious or widespread offence.

Commenting on the decision, the chairwoman of the Independent Complaints Panel, Nicola Williams, said: “This is the first time since the addition of the rule on serious or widespread offence that a product’s name and packaging was considered under the rule in terms of offensive language.

The post on Fok Hing Gin’s social media pages. Photo: courtesy of Facebook/Fok Hing Gin

On the Portman Group website, Incognito Group explained that the name had been changed from ‘Fuk’ to ‘Fok’ to differentiate it from offensive language used in Western culture.

“We strive to be a brand that celebrates the language, culture and heritage of Hong Kong. We are grateful to 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.”

The company was recommend to change the back label to incorporate more of the brand heritage story.