Hong Kong gin brand Fok Hing Gin has been ordered by the UK beverage industry watchdog to change its name after a member of the UK public complained that the brand name was offensive. In response to the complaint, the brand rolled out discounts for customers in the UK. Fok Hing Gin, produced by Incognito Group, has been inspected by the UK trade body Portman Group, which consists of alcoholic beverage producers and brewers, after a licensing officer lodged a complaint. The complaint stated that the name of the product (originally Fuk Hing Gin) is “clearly intended to offend and to be pronounced as an offensive term”.
In a Portman Group ad, the complainant said, “Personally, I wouldn’t want to see this product on family supermarket shelves or be promoted in an environment that children have access to, like most social media sites. “
The complainant added, “So despite the claims, this is a Hong Kong term meaning good luck – obviously the intention is to shock and offend those who find swearing undesirable and unacceptable.”
The complaint was filed in connection with its rule, which states that the name of a drink, its packaging and any promotional material or activity must not constitute a serious or generalized violation.
In response to the complaint, Incognito Group explained the history of the product name and said it was a brand of gin owned and operated by a Hong Kong-based company. The company disagreed with the complainant’s interpretation of his name as a reference to offensive language and clarified that “Fok Hing Gin” was an English Romanization of Traditional Chinese, meaning fortune and prosperity.
The company added that it was paying homage to Fuk Hing Lane, a street in Causeway Bay, Hong Kong and explained that the name had been changed from “Fuk” to “Fok” to differentiate it from the offensive language used in the western culture.
Incognito Group also said that a personal interpretation of its brand name should not limit the representation and celebration it aims to promote. The company said consumers should have the free will to engage and purchase the brand based on individual assessment and interpretation of the name.
Additionally, Fok Hing Gin posted an article on his Facebook on November 12. He said, “A letter to the Karens who tried to cancel us because she was offended by some Romanized Chinese words and a street name … and then took the time to report. Here is a discount code for yours. efforts: “FOKHINKARENS” for 25% off – in stores in UK only, until Sunday. “
The added message,
PS Thank you, you have helped us go viral and generate more press and traffic than we could ever imagine – more effective than a PR agency! Can we suggest a new hobby?
Closer to the region, in Malaysia, TIMAH Whiskey was recently arrested by the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) who called on the government to ban Malaysian-made whiskey. The brand name “Timah” has been called for insulting the Muslim community because it resembles a Malay and Muslim name abbreviated from the name “Fatimah”. The CAP said it could not understand “how such a mark and image is authorized in the first place”, which it believes would spark an uproar among the population, according to the article.
TIMAH responded to the allegations, adding that there had been misinformation circulating online. According to TIMAH, the name is a local meaning of the word “tin”. In fact, the name of TIMAH Whiskey recalls the era of tin mining in British Malaysia. The man pictured on the bottle is “Captain Speedy”, one of the men who introduced whiskey culture at the time. TIMAH also addressed this issue by saying it was never his intention to stir up controversy with his name.