Portman Group bans Stiffy's

08 November, 2011

The Portman Group has banned the sale of Stiffy’s Jaffa Cake and Kola Kubez vodka liqueurs after a complaint that the name was a sexual reference.

The group’s independent complaints panel upheld the complaint, noting that “stiffy” was a common slang term for an erection – giving the brand strong sexual connotations, which are banned under the Portman Group’s Code.

Stiffy’s producer Stiffy’s Shots, which trades as VC2, said the name had been chosen because “Stiffy” was the nickname of a person involved in the development of the drink, and that it had not been chosen for its sexual connotations. 

The panel acknowledged that the company may not have deliberately set out to link the product with sexuality, but said the brand name alluded to sexual success and so breached the responsibility Code.

The group has put out a retailer alert bulleting asking retailers not to place orders for Stiffy’s Jaffa Cake and Stiffy’s Kola Kubez in their current packaging after December 31. The company has changed the brand name to Stivy’s.

Portman Group chief executive Henry Ashworth 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.”




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Few things can bring communal pleasure so intimately as wine. Apart from a hot tub, perhaps. Sport can trigger mass jubilation, film gives us shared empathy, but wine has a nigh-unique ability to bestow conviviality among us through a shared bottle – which makes it especially galling that we spend so much time divided over it.

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