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  1. #1
    Enthusiast
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    Mar 2004
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    virginia
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    Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?

    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?

  2. #2

    Re: Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?

    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!

  3. #3
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Chicago
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    12,375

    Re: Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?

    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.

  4. #4

    Re: Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?

    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.



  5. #5
    Connoisseur
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    May 2004
    Location
    Upstate NY
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    509

    Re: Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?

    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!

  6. #6
    Advanced Taster
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    Jun 2004
    Location
    Seattle, USA
    Posts
    239

    Re: Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?

    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. 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.

  7. #7
    Connoisseur
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    May 2003
    Location
    Virginia
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    621

    Re: Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?

    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!?

  8. #8
    Enthusiast
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    Mar 2000
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    Midland, MI
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    455

    Re: Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?

    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

  9. #9
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Aug 2000
    Location
    Bloomington, IN
    Posts
    784

    Re: Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?

    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.

  10. #10
    Mr. Anal Retentive Bourbon Drinker
    Join Date
    Jul 2003
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    1,738

    Re: Old Forester - Deceptive Advertising?

    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.

 

 

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