HK alcohol brand ‘Fok Hing Gin’ rejects call to rebrand following ‘offensive’ marketing complaint

The company says its name is a reference to a street in Causeway Bay, Fuk Hing Lane. Photo: Facebook/Fok Hing Gin
The company says its name is a reference to a street in Causeway Bay, Fuk Hing Lane. Photo: Facebook/Fok Hing Gin

A Hong Kong alcohol brand is sticking by its tongue-in-cheek name despite ruling from a UK drinks industry watchdog that its branding is offensive.

Fok Hing Gin, a local company also registered in the UK, wrote in a Facebook statement last Friday addressed to the “Karen” who filed a complaint to the watchdog: “Thank you, you’ve helped us go viral and generated more press and traffic we could ever imagine—more effective than a PR agency! Might we suggest a new hobby?”

The distiller will not be rebranding. But in line with the ruling of the UK alcohol industry’s Independent Complaints Panel, it will update its product label with a clearer description of its witty name being a reference to a street, Fuk Hing Lane.

“As you know, our gin pays special homage to FUK HING LANE in Causeway Bay, and not quite what you think it sounds like,” the company wrote. (Roughly translated, “fuk hing” in Cantonese means blessing and prosperity.)

Read more: Queen’s Road to Chairman’s Road: Member of Beijing advisory body suggests changing colonial-era street names

Fok Hing Gin’s Facebook statement capped a months-long saga that began with somebody filing a complaint to the Portman Group, a UK-based drinks industry regulator, in June.

The complainant denounced the name as “clearly intended to shock and be pronounced as an offensive term,” adding that it would be inappropriate in supermarkets, on social media, or anywhere else where it would be seen by children.

Photo: Facebook/Fok Hing Gin

The industry complaints panel upheld the complaint, the Portman Group wrote in a statement published last Thursday. According to the panel’s ruling, Fok Hing Gin does not clarify the street name reference on the gin bottle’s label, making it possible for the branding to be misconstrued as solely alluding to profanity.

Founded in 2017, Fok Hing Gin is a Hong Kong- and UK-based company under brand incubator Incognito Group. Its alcohol is distilled in the UK.

“The request to have our global brand name changed because a Karen found our name offensive is ludicrous—but we’ll play along,” a Fok Hing Gin representative told Coconuts.

“And for the sake of our business, please pronounce our name accurately in the future—it’s “fuk1 hing3,” the representative added, romanizing the name in jyutping.

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