M&S changes name of Porn Star Martini after Portman ruling

British retailer Marks & Spencer has been told to change the name of its canned Porn Star Martini after a complaint to trade group The Portman group said that, if allowed to continue, it would “open the floodgates” to other suggestive cocktails.

The complaint by a member of the public was upheld in a ruling by the Portman Group last month. It stated that M&S’s Porn Star Martini in a can “contravenes the Portman Code” in that it breached section 3.2d in which an alcoholic product “suggests any association with sexual activity or sexual success”.

“If you continue to allow this, it will open the floodgates to others e.g. Sex on the Beach, Slippery Nipple, Sloe Comfortable Screw, Liquid Viagra etc”, the complaint noted.

The launch of the cocktail last year was met with outrage by some, who accused the retailer of “normalising porn”. Among those angered by the release included feminist campaigning group Object which accused M&S of sending “mixed messages”, while parents on Mumsnet said that they did not want to explain what a porn star is to their children while food shopping at M&S.

M&S said the term ‘porn star’ was “intended as a reference to a category of person rather than a sexual activity”.

It added that the term was a recognised cocktail, made with vanilla vodka and passion fruit juice, and that it launched the product in September last year after researching the best-selling cocktails in the drinks industry.

In November 2018, it was reported by on-trade specialist CGA Strategy that the Porn Star Martini was the most ordered cocktail in UK restaurants, bars and pubs.

M&S continued that the term Porn Star Martini has been used in reference to the cocktail “for over sixteen years” and that customers associate it with the cocktail and not with sexual activity or sexual success. It also highlighted Regulation (EU) No 1169/2011 which states that a foodstuff should be given its legal name, and if such a name does not exist, it should be labelled with its “customary name”. The customary name is that “accepted as the name of the food by consumers in the member state in which that food is sold, without that name needing further explanation”.

The M&S Porn Star Martini RTD.

However, the assessment panel sided with the author of the complaint. It sought legal council to determine whether Porn Star Martini could be considered the ‘customary name’ for the vodka-based passion fruit cocktail, finding that the term could not be considered as such.

It also stated that M&S’s version did not include any Prosecco (or any sparkling wine), which is usually considered a “principle ingredient” of the cocktail. M&S’s canned cocktail replaces the fizz with sparkling water.

The panel continued that other businesses, for example BBC Good Food, have replaced the term ‘porn star’ with ‘passion fruit’ in a “conscious effort to remove the phrase from the title of the cocktail”.

“The panel considered that the drink could be seen by people who were not familiar with the cocktail name but would more readily associate the name with its more established definition. On the basis of the product name, the panel accordingly upheld the product under Code Rule 3.2(d)”, the ruling concluded.

A M&S spokesperson confirmed that, in view of the ruling, the name of the canned cocktail would be changed.

The spokesperson said: “Porn Star Martini is a common name for a passion fruit cocktail drink. Our product launched in September 2018 and quickly became one of our most popular cocktails. However, as a Portman Group co-signatory, we respect the ruling and will be changing the name to Passion Star Martini.”

2 Responses to “M&S changes name of Porn Star Martini after Portman ruling”

  1. L3 says:

    That’s suggestive “CockTail”!

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