No Motörhead wine for Icelanders, branding too negative

ÁTVR, Iceland’s public sector alcohol retail monopoly, has refused to sell a red wine marketed under the branding of British rock band Motörhead. The decision was taken because the name is apparently a nod to amphetamine abuse and because the band sings about war, unsafe sex and drugs.

The wine marketed under the Motörhead name and logo will therefore not be for sale in ÁTVR’s Vínbúðin stores across Iceland. In defence of the move the company cited the fact that the branding is not relevant because the band does not make the wine itself; but that the branding does inevitably promote an unhealthy lifestyle.

The information comes from an article written for Fréttablaðið by Hjörleifur Árnason, the wine’s Icelandic importer. In his article he says he has now appealed the case to the parliamentary ombudsman. Although ÁTVR has a monopoly on alcohol retail in Iceland, importers and distributors are able to deal directly with bars, restaurants and cafés; meaning the Motörhead brand could still be sold in the country and can now expect a higher profile following this controversy.

The rock band, which has been going for 37 years, loaned its name to Motörhead Shiraz, as well as to several other products including vodka and rosé wine.

Last March Hjörleifur decided to import a case of the wine through the company Rokk slf. and apply for a licence to sell it in Vínbúðin outlets. The application was rejected by ÁTVR on the grounds that the band Motörhead had nothing directly to do with the wine and that the message accompanying the product was not a positive one.

The English word ‘Motorhead’ is a slang term for an amphetamine addict and furthermore the band sings about war, abuse of power, irresponsible sex and substance abuse, ÁTVR said.

On the grounds the the band did not make the wine themselves, the importer says he fears that means all celebrity wines will be banned, such as wines by the Rolling Stones, AC/DC, Elvis Presley and others.

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