Alcohol Concern accused the Russian Vodka House of performing a publicity-seeking “stunt” after it set up a website inviting visitors to apply for a “kidnap experience”.
The site for Sputnik vodka, which is sold through Unwins and Nisa-Today’s, shows pictures of a bound, blindfolded body in a car boot and spoof missing persons posters on bottles.
Alcohol Concern director Eric Appleby said the website was out of line with the industry’s efforts to market responsibly. “This is clearly a stunt and is irresponsible given the position of the industry. The aim is to get publicity,” he said. “I would look to the Portman Group, with its revised code of practice that now includes websites, to take action and demonstrate the validity of its code.”
However, David Poley, the watchdog’s director of policy and good practice, said it would not act until it received a formal complaint.
“Our code says marketing should not have any associations with bravado, violence and aggressive or anti-social behaviour. Although there is a provision whereby the Portman Group can make complaints to the independent panel, we don’t exercise that power often - it’s better for us to respond to complaints.”
A spokesman for the Russian Vodka House said: “We are no more endorsing real kidnapping than Disney is endorsing real piracy through Pirates of the Caribbean. We hope people will take it in the way it was intended, which is tongue in cheek.”