A complaint against Dead Man’s Fingers Super Spiced Rum and Dead Man’s Fingers Tequila Reposado has been rejected by the drinks trade’s Independent Complaints Panel (ICP). 

Industry watchdog the Portman Group said both drinks, which are produced by Halewood Artisanal Spirits, received a complaint regarding “association with dangerous behaviour” due to their packaging. The complaint related to the colour contrast in the letters of the name Dead Man’s Fingers Tequila Reposado to show the word ‘danger’, while the Spiced Rum depicted a skull on fire. 

While regulations state that “a drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity should not in any direct or indirect way suggest any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behaviour”, the ICP ruled that that the skull imagery was used to create an “edgy brand feel” to appeal to young adults.

It also concluded that having the word ‘danger’ highlighted on the packaging did not in itself “create an association with a type of dangerous behaviour”, meaning the product does not breach regulations.

As well as its imagery, the Spiced Rum received a criticism for incorporating the product’s 43% abv in red font on the label in combination with the word ‘super’, which the complainant believed “placed emphasis” on the drink’s “higher alcoholic strength”. However, the panel found the word ‘super’ was related to the spices in the rum, as there were “no visual or written cues that placed undue emphasis” on alcoholic strength.

According to the Portman Group, a Dead Man’s Fingers representative said the range aimed to be “bold and edgy”, and did not incite dangerous behaviour. They also noted that the brand name derives from the “inedible part of a crab”, which has been linked to death in folklore. 

Commenting on the decision, chair of the ICP, Nicola Williams, said: “We are supportive of producers being creative and using this in all aspects of a product and design, including naming. This case shows that producers can be edgy to appeal to their customers as there was no association with dangerous behaviour.”