“The name of the product Fok Hing Gin is clearly intended to shock and be pronounced as an offensive term - marketing comments I’ve seen online include ‘Fokthehaters’ and ‘those who don’t like the name can FOK OFF’, they said.
“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 producers, Incognito Group Limited, hit back and insisted that the tongue-in-cheek name was to pay homage to “Fuk Hing Lane” in Hong Kong. They purposely replaced “Fuk” with “Fok” to avoid causing offence.
“Our name sounds like a popular western profanity, you say?” The Fok Hing Gin website said.
“Whilst that is a remarkable coincidence, we are actually 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? So happy are we, in fact, that we adopted the street name for our gin.”
The chair of the ICP, Nicola Williams said that it “is not appropriate” to purposely link a name to profanity.
“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.
“No responsible marketing should cause serious or widespread offence,” she said.
Incognito Group Limited said it would modify Fok Hing Gin’s labels in light of the ruling.
A spokesperson said: “We strive to be a brand that celebrates the language, culture and heritage of Hong Kong. We are grateful by our UK consumers who have warmly welcomed us into their gin collection and we are delighted to continue serving the market.
“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.”
Indy100 has reached out to Fok Hing Gin for further comment.