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UK retailers are being urged not to stock the Red Army vodka brand, which is sold in a gift pack shaped liked a gun, after it fell foul of the industry's own marketing guidelines.

Industry watchdog the Portman Group today (9 April) issued a retailer alert bulletin over the brand, produced by Polish group Bartol Bartex Sp.J. A complaint about the vodka suggested the product and its packaging could be linked with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour. 

In its response, Bartex argued the product is simply a glass bottle shaped as a gun and therefore has no association with weapons or violent behaviour. The company said it was not its intention to “create or promote violence”. 

However, the Portman Group's independent complaints panel ruled that the name 'Red Army', along with the packaging, is inappropriate for an alcoholic drink, as it suggested a direct association with violent and dangerous behaviour.

Henry Ashworth, Portman's chief executive, said: “Strict UK alcohol marketing rules specifically prohibit an alcoholic drink from being sold if it has any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour.

"On this occasion, the panel ruled that the product name in the context of the packaging, together with the packaging itself, was too strongly linked to these themes.

"We therefore appeal to retailers not to stock the product its current packaging after 20 June.”