Collagin producers hit back at Portman Group

The makers of Collagin have hit out at industry watchdog The Portman Group after it warned retailers not to stock the collagen-infused gin.

The Portman Group upheld complaints from members of the public arguing the gin should not claim to have a beautifying effect and warned retailers not to stock it in its current packaging.

We published the ruling yesterday and now Collagin co-founder Camilla Brown has been in touch to put across her side of the story.

The Portman Group is funded by nine large drinks producers, including spirits suppliers Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Bacardi Brown-Forman and Mast-Jagermeister.

Brown lumps the group together as a “huge corporation” and paints it as a David v Goliath battle, saying she refuses to “bow down to corporate bullying”.

It has shades of a story a couple of years ago, where Scottish brewer Brewdog railed against a Portman Group decision and called it a “a gloomy gaggle of killjoy jobsworths, funded by navel-gazing international drinks giants”.

Brown said: “In light of The Portman Group's ruling on Collagin released yesterday, in which they left out vital details of how we have worked to adhere to their rules, we have decided to respond publicly.

“This could be extremely detrimental to our brand and business, but at the end of the day Liz and I aren't going to bow down to corporate bullying. Girl power and all that jazz.

“We could keep quiet and hope it blows over, but anyone who’s set up a new company or simply has a business moral compass will know that anxiety, sleepless nights and the deliberating unknown will effect everything you do.

“Ultimately, this careless decision and public takedown could ruin us. A business we’ve put everything in to, something that we took a huge gamble on, a gamble that has made us so happy and changed our lives. Why would a huge corporation still want to do this? It’s absurd. 

“I understand governing bodies have rules, but they failed to state that we have worked tirelessly with them for over a year to make sure we’re within their legal boundaries. Liz and I are appalled and honestly gutted that they took the first step to potentially, irrevocably hurt a start up company with no money, power or contacts [with no opportunity] to counteract such damning words. 

“We asked numerous times for them to update their their press release to state that we have worked with them for over a year to make sure we comply with their rules. We have changed our labels, website, social media profiles and press releases, which they agreed met their rules. They forget to mention that we had to destroy thousands of labels, costing us a lot of money, so we wouldn’t be in their bad books.

“It’s almost laughable. We are not pulling the wool over anyone’s eyes here, this is a gin distilled with collagen, cleverly named Collagin, a why thank you.

“We’re not saying it's anti-ageing, it’s alcohol. What the press write is up to them, Liz [her co-founder] and I are ex-PR girls, you know we can't put pen to paper for the click bait headlines.

“We’ve quit our jobs and left security to create a brilliant, quirky product that makes people smile, tastes amazing and is causing such a buzz in the spirits world. Why The Portman Group is spending so much time trying to damage our flourishing business is beyond me, but we hope our worldwide sales, countless amounts of press coverage and unbelievably positive feedback will speak for itself and this will soon be forgotten.

“At the end of the day, we are just two young woman trying to do something different and brave, and this could really hurt us. If you’ve ever decided to risk everything to make something happen, don't let this put you off. I have faith in the public, and two measly complaints resulting in such drama is honestly a compliment. At least Liz and I have created something people want to ruin, but they have no chance. Come on, Goliath. Don’t fuck with David.”

Members of the public complained to the Portman Group, arguing the product was in breach of its code because it presented itself as able to help improve the consumer’s appearance.

The Portman Group agreed and upheld the complaint under rule 3.2 of its code.

Kay Perry, secretary to the Independent Complaints Panel, said: “Alcohol cannot be marketed on the basis of any health claims and producers must be particularly careful not to create a link between alcohol products and any therapeutic claims such as anti-ageing properties or rejuvenating effects.

“If a producer is unsure, they can contact the Portman Group’s Advisory Service which is free and confidential. We are pleased that the company has contacted the Advisory Service for guidance on appropriate changes to the product and packaging.”

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