The post on both the Facebook and Twitter accounts of the Bristol Dry Gin Company was an advert for one of its products, and referenced a quote from Donald Trump he made over the weekend.
The social media posts read: “When the shooting starts the looting starts. Voted no.1 gin by rioters for its complex botanical mix and high flammability” above an image of its Turbo Island brand gin, with a rag in one bottle to make it look like a petrol bomb, and a glass of the product on fire.
With many US cities seeing unprecedented protests following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis, President Trump tweeted the words of Miami police chief Walter Headley, who warned in 1967: ‘when the looting starts, the shooting starts’.
That tweet from Donald Trump brought widespread criticism, although he later went on Twitter again to deny it was a threat.
Bristol Dry Gin posted its message on both Twitter and Facebook early on Monday evening, and it prompted a quick backlash as the tweet went viral.
BBC breakfast TV presenter Dan Walker was one of the more high profile critics – he described it as a ‘pretty vile tweet’.
(Image: Bristol Live)
Bristol Dry Gin Company engaged with a few of the people reacting to the post on Facebook, and joked that they were ‘gonna have to fire’ the social media person ‘again’.
In response to Amy Horner-Webb’s comment that it was ‘how not to market a product’, the company commented: “Can’t argue with that. Fully agree. Gonna have to fire the social media person again. We told her that she should have gone with the coronavirus joke, but she said this was less offensive.”
The tweet was met with replies condemning it, before it was deleted by the company, and the Facebook post was also deleted after an hour or so.
Amy Horner-Webb, from Bristol, was one of many people to contact Bristol Live in outrage at the Bristol Dry Gin Company’s tweet or Facebook post. “I’m just utterly astounded that in 2020 someone sat and decided to take that photograph and add that caption,” she said.
(Image: Bristol Live)
“The rioting is absolutely no laughing matter, people have been seriously injured and murdered.
“It’s also absolutely disgusting the fact that Bristol’s name is being dragged through that mud,” she said.
Amy called on the Bristol Dry Gin Company to make a donation to a fund set up to help the Black Lives Matter movement.
“Bristol is such an amazing and culturally diverse city, it doesn’t need to be tarnished by some gin company trying to flog a few more bottles,” she added.
It is not the first time that the Bristol Dry Gin Company, which won two prestigious national awards at the start of 2020 for its products, has found its approach to marketing has been controversial.
In 2018, in the week that Salisbury woman Dawn Sturgess died of Novichok poisoning, the firm eventually apologised to her family and withdrew a new vodka named Novichok.
Within an hour of deleting the Twitter and Facebook posts, a spokesperson from the Bristol Dry Gin Company told Bristol Live it was sorry ‘for any offence caused’.
(Image: James Beck)
“We were just poking a little fun at the recent tweet by Donald Trump,” a spokesperson said in a message from its Facebook page tonight (June 1).
“Our Turbo Island Edition is 75% abv and should definitely not be drank as a shot.
“We only have a small following on social media, so the backlash was a bit of a surprise.
“Our intention was not to cause any offence, and we sincerely apologise for any offence caused, by adapting Donald Trump’s tweet,” they added.