Portman ban for 'sexual' tonic wine and 'hard' cider

07 February, 2012

A tonic wine which features a naked couple embracing on its label and a cider branded as “hard” have been banned by the Portman Group.

Magnum Tonic Wine’s name and label image associated the brand with sexual success, which breaches the group’s code, its Independent Complaints Panel has ruled.

Magnum’s packaging also referred to Vigorton, a vitamin ingredient marketed for improving stamina, which linked the drink to the enhancement of sexual capabilities, the panel said.

J Wray & Nephew, which makes the product, had not imported it into the UK because it acknowledged it was inappropriate for distribution here – but a third party called Flying Trade had supplied it to specialist food buyers in a small number of Tesco stores, the Portman Group said.

Tesco has withdrawn the product and delisted it.

Portman Group chief executive Henry Ashworth said: “It is not acceptable for products to make links with sexual success or enhancement of physical capabilities in this way. We are pleased that Tesco immediately withdrew the product from sale.”

The group has also banned Healey’s Texan-style Hard Cyder in its current format, after a member of the public complained that the name had links with toughness, violence and aggression.

The Cornish Cyder Farm, which makes the cider, said it had adopted the US terminology of “hard cider” meaning cider with alcohol, because “cider” is non-alcoholic there.

But the panel said that was not relevant to UK consumers, who would associate the term “hard” with strong alcohol, breaching the Portman Group’s code.

Ashworth said: “It is not acceptable to make alcohol strength the dominant theme of a drink. Alcohol producers must exercise extreme caution and we strongly recommend they use the Portman Group’s free pre-launch advice service. We are pleased that the company has agreed to consult our advisory service going forward.”

Retailers have been asked not to place orders for either drink in its current form after April 15.

Bookmark this

Site Search


Richard Hemming MW: beware inverse snobbery

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.

Click for more »
Upcoming events


Is blended Scotch overshadowed by single malt in retailers?

  • Yes
  • No
  • Don't know