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A first-if-its-kind ruling has left Incognito Group Limited, the owner of Fok Hing Gin, with no choice but to rebrand its bottles, as it is currently “offensive” to people “who find swearing undesirable and unacceptable”.
The gin producers said the name was chosen to pay tribute to Hong Kong’s Fuk Hing Lane.
To avoid offending anybody, they explained, they had deliberately replaced “Fuk” with “Fok”.
A company spokesperson said: “We strive to be a brand that celebrates the language, culture and heritage of Hong Kong.”
But a complainant described Fok Hing Gin as being “clearly intended to shock and be pronounced as an offensive term” to the Independent Complaints Panel (ICP).
They added: “Marketing comments I’ve seen online include ‘Fokthehaters’ and ‘those who don’t like the name 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 gin’s website reads: “We are named after a street in our Hong Kong hometown, a name the locals have long since stopped guffawing at.
“But many visitors to our fine city still see the funny side and we are OK with that.
“We laugh at ourselves, so why not let visitors in on it?”
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Nicola Williams, chair of the ICP, claimed linking a name to profanity “is not appropriate”.
She said: “No responsible marketing should cause serious or widespread offence.
“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.”
Incognito Group Limited thanked UK customers “who have warmly welcomed us into their gin collection” and announced it would modify the gin’s labels following the landmark ruling.
They said: “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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