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View Full Version : Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?



angelshare
07-15-2004, 21:12
I picked up a bottle of Old Forester not too long ago that had a folding neck tag. The clearly visible portion of the neck tag read "Old Forester - American Whiskey of the Year ***** Awarded at the 2003 WhiskeyFest New York, hosted by Malt Advocate." If you read the VERY small print under the words "Old Forester," you see "Birthday Bourbon." If you open the tag and read the SLIGHTLY less fine print, you read again that this award was given to OFBB which is vaguely noted to be different than "Old Forester," listed as a "gold medal" winner.

Nevertheless, I would argue that any reasonable person who knew less than a bourbon enthusiast/expert would believe they were buying the American Whiskey of the Year as awarded at WhiskeyFest when they picked up the bottle at the store.

Illegal? I'm sure it is not. I'm sure lawyers triple check that kind of stuff. But it certainly struck me as deceptive marketing, especially since just 5 days ago I bought a bottle of OFBB - THE WINNER - that had a completely different tag with no "American Whiskey of the Year" designation.

I know this business is...well, business. I also like the "regular" expression of OF all right. But to use an award won by OFBB as the centerpiece of the OF neck tag is unethical, don't you think?

TNbourbon
07-15-2004, 21:21
Brown-Forman deceptive? Nah -- that would put them in the same league as, say, another company who'd name/label a bourbon similar to one of theirs in order to take advantage of its popularity and compete against it. I'm sure they wouldn't tolerate something like that!http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/horseshit.gif

cowdery
07-15-2004, 21:31
I agree with you. It's deceptive. If they were using the hang tag to cross-sell BB it would be different but as you describe it, the consumer is supposed to believe they're buying "the whiskey of the year" when they buy any Old Forester expression. That is not in the spirit of special editions such as BB.

Believe me, the producers do pay attention to what is said here. They care very much about the 'opinion leaders,' and that's you guys. Let's hear what you think.

TNbourbon
07-15-2004, 22:04
Here's another Brown-Forman tale the meaning of which I'm not sure I really know, exept that it seems they don't always tell the simple truth:
B-F, of course, owns and distribute Jack Daniel's, which has a very popular square 375ml #7 black-label bottle. Distributors/retailers are told that JD only runs the bottling line for those bottles 3 times a year, so stores have to estimate in advance what they need for the coming 4-month period, because there's no guarantee the distributor will have any left at the end of that period, and will have to wait until the next bottling run to order anew.
The store where I work ran out of those bottles in early June and couldn't reorder, because new bottles wouldn't be available until after July 1. And, they did, indeed, come back in on time. But, guess what? -- They were the 86-proof version, which JD no longer bottles. In other words, these were NOT new bottles, but existing stock JD held back despite shortages because -- well, who knows why, exactly? But B-F didn't release them to fill retailers' gaps from under-ordering despite having them in hand and telling distributors none were available.
Oh, and -- perhaps not coincidentally -- JD Black also can be purchased in a flask-shaped 375ml, but it isn't very popular because it's priced a dollar higher. But we sold more of them in the few weeks we waited for the new square bottles than we generally do the rest of the year.

brian12069
07-16-2004, 04:37
I picked up a bottle of Old Forester not too long ago that had a folding neck tag. The clearly visible portion of the neck tag read "Old Forester - American Whiskey of the Year ***** Awarded at the 2003 WhiskeyFest New York, hosted by Malt Advocate." If you read the VERY small print under the words "Old Forester," you see "Birthday Bourbon." If you open the tag and read the SLIGHTLY less fine print, you read again that this award was given to OFBB which is vaguely noted to be different than "Old Forester," listed as a "gold medal" winner.

Nevertheless, I would argue that any reasonable person who knew less than a bourbon enthusiast/expert would believe they were buying the American Whiskey of the Year as awarded at WhiskeyFest when they picked up the bottle at the store.

Illegal? I'm sure it is not. I'm sure lawyers triple check that kind of stuff. But it certainly struck me as deceptive marketing, especially since just 5 days ago I bought a bottle of OFBB - THE WINNER - that had a completely different tag with no "American Whiskey of the Year" designation.

I know this business is...well, business. I also like the "regular" expression of OF all right. But to use an award won by OFBB as the centerpiece of the OF neck tag is unethical, don't you think?



This doesn't surprise me. I'm in the advertising business and believe me you should ALWAYS read the fine print...thats if the fine print is even there!

clayton
07-16-2004, 09:23
Similar story: I bought a bottle of Jim Beam Black a month or so ago. Around the neck is a metallic medal on a ribbon, along with the text, "Beverage Tasting Institute #1 Highest Rated North American Whiskey Chicago 2003"

Now, the Beverage Tasting Institute has a website at www.tastings.com. (http://www.tastings.com.) If you go to BTI's website and do a search on American Whiskey, these are the top results:

98 Old Rip Van Winkle 12 Year Old Special Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey
98 Pappy Van Winkle's 15 Year Old Family Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
95 Old Rip Van Winkle 13 Year Old Family Reserve Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
95 George T. Stagg 15 Yr. Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
94 Old Rip Van Winkle 15 Year Old Handmade Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
94 A.H. Hirsch 16 Year Old Pot Stilled Straight Bourbon Whiskey
93 Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
93 Jim Beam Black 8 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
93 Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
92 Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

[ and so forth ]

So, while Jim Beam Black did indeed score a respectable 93, it certainly isn't at the top of BTI's list. It must have been the best bottle that somebody brought to this Chicago 2003 event?

If you only read the first part of the text, "Beverage Tasting Institute #1 Highest Rated North American Whiskey" and miss or ignore the "Chicago 2003" part, you would be duped into thinking BTI found this to be the country's best whiskey.

Not exactly lying, but certainly shady.

OneCubeOnly
07-16-2004, 09:49
The part that would bug me is B-F automatically assuming that we consumers are stupid enough to fall for the gimmick. Sure, there's a certain percentage of people that don't understand the difference between what they just bought and OFBB, but I'd wager an even GREATER percentage read that tag and get infuriated.

Or maybe I overestimate John Q. Public!?

tdelling
07-16-2004, 10:13
Not only is it deceptive, but it's un-neccessary. The label re-design and
whatever else they're doing to promote OF seems to be catching on... I was
talking to the beer buyer from a large liquor store chain in Indiana, and
their stores recognize OF for how good it is. These guys are pretty funny...
they're not afraid to put things on the top shelf that deserve it, and
they're also not afraid to put high-profile brands on the bottom shelf if
the producers/distributors don't behave themselves.

Tim Dellinger

kitzg
07-16-2004, 13:08
I'd categorize this as legal but slightly misleading (based on my experience in the foods and beverages industry). However, you likely do somewhat overestimate the average buyer of bourbon by thinking they'd see the difference. Certainly most in this forum would immediately pick up the difference. While I have friends at BF it is clear to me that they do walk a thin line from time to time.

wadewood
07-16-2004, 15:05
I just some of the same neck tags on OF in a Wa State liquor store. I find this practice sleazy. I have a low opinion of the brand manager who authorized this and therefore my opinion of all Old Forrester products has declined.

RedVette
07-16-2004, 16:27
When Jeff Gordon wins a race in his "Chevy", the folks at GM proudly proclaim that their car won the race. My lawn tractor has as much "Chevy" in it as an average NASCAR Chevrolet does, but the advertising folks still pump it up. The B-F deal may be sleezy, but they are certainly not alone.

Paradox
07-16-2004, 17:01
Yeah, all this sounds pretty dishonest to me as well. Sure, many companies try and do this to one degree or another, but this sounds like they really are trying to make fools of their customers by tricking them. Sure, many of us on this board would not be fooled by this, but its the average consumer who falls victim to this type of damn near false advertising.

dgonano
07-16-2004, 20:44
I respect all of your opinions and in a way it is deceptive. But an Old Forester product did win the Bourbon of the Year award. They very well couln't attach the tags to OFBB bottles since the spring edition had already been distributed and the fall was heading out the door. Besides the whiskies were probably all made from the same recipes even though the taste profiles are certainly different.

I feel they are just hyping all their whiskies which we all know are excellent products in their respective price ranges.

gr8erdane
07-16-2004, 21:55
I would like to take a leadership role in this outrage committed by BF. If everyone would send me all your BF products, I will gladly dispose of them in my own personal protest. And to make sure they really feel the screws tightening, I will do so slowly and deliberately over a very long period of time. Take that BF!

bobbyc
07-17-2004, 04:54
At the risk of sounding a "Me Too" I would like to say that I'm as outraged as Dane. I'll clearly stand in the same corner, Take That BF! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

TNbourbon
07-17-2004, 21:01
Well, I AM outraged, but not as outraged as Dane or Bobby -- just send me the Birthday Bourbons.

bobbyc
07-17-2004, 21:09
How I envy your calm in the heat of the moment, looks like me and Dane sort of lost it for a moment there! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

Barrel_Proof
07-17-2004, 21:23
Let's put all the empty rhetoric and empty promises in this empty OF jug (http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&category=10901&item=6108269 815&rd=1&ssPageName=WDVW) and ask DSOB -- no, can't do that, he's headed inland to Arizona, so better ask DNOB, he's still near water -- to launch the smoke and mirror flotsam into the Pacific Ocean.

Maybe the flotsam jug will land on New Zealand, or on that small island off the coast of New Zealand where Cam lives. Let the hype be repackaged there (perhaps with Cola added) with great success!

bobbyc
07-17-2004, 21:29
I can imagine the shock and awe some islander would experience finding that and all our collective disdain for the current ad compaign! Let's do it! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

gr8erdane
07-17-2004, 21:37
I still believe that I should handle all elimination of existing stocks personally since it has caused me untold hours of sleeplessness and mental anguish. Yes, slow consumption is the ticket here to really make BF pay for its transgressions against all of mankind and I am willing to take the entire burdon upon my poor shoulders.

musher
07-18-2004, 00:25
. . . I am willing to take the entire burdon upon my poor shoulders.


Hereafter to be know as the Great(er) Dane Bourbon Burden! http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif (Or should we just shorten that to "Bourden"?) http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/rolleyes.gif

gr8erdane
07-18-2004, 03:22
It's a daunting task, but I'm confident I can either do it or die trying. In case I don't make it, I know Bobby will take up where I leave off. So send those BF bottles to St Charles MO for proper disposal. If I get everyone's I can probably put out the California Brush fires from my back door...

angelshare
07-18-2004, 06:32
But an Old Forester product did win the Bourbon of the Year award.



Agreed, and if there is an argument in favor of B-F's tactics, this would be it.



They very well couln't attach the tags to OFBB bottles since the spring edition had already been distributed and the fall was heading out the door.



Maybe...but I have to believe these tags were meant for standard OF. I'm not sure how B-F does it, but a friend of my stepbrother does store based marketing for Beam here in VA. Based on his usual duties, I could easily envision his being sent a box of neck tags for Knob Creek with the instruction to hang them on any unadorned bottles. The fact that OFBB was out the door already is no excuse in my opinion.

Oddly, on the BACK of the tag is the statement that Old Forester was a gold medal winner in the World Spirits Competition. You would think that honest marketing - if that's not an oxymoron - would have been to put this on the front of the tag with the ad for OFBB (clearly designated as such) on the back. I think raising awareness of OFBB is very reasonable and appropriate marketing.



Besides the whiskies were probably all made from the same recipes even though the taste profiles are certainly different.



I suspect the same is true of Evan Williams green and EWSB, but I would hope that HH would not design a similar neck tag for EW green.



I feel they are just hyping all their whiskies which we all know are excellent products in their respective price ranges.



Agreed here, too. Don't get me wrong - I see and respect your perspective on this. It seems that marketing and deception are intertwined to some degree no matter what. But, if what Chuck says is true, this may be an opportunity to say to B-F that we're aware of what they're doing and don't like it, for what it's worth. They make good whiskey that has won awards. Why not just market on the truth?

As for Dane's martyrdom...the gesture is appreciated. However, since I started this thread, I feel like the least I can do is dispose of my own B-F products. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/grin.gif

All that said, in the end, I'll vote with my $ and B-F will likely be the winner. OFBB is dang good.