Five Wives Vodka, from Ogden’s Own Distillery in Utah, can be sold in that state but not in nearby Idaho. The label has an image of five women, an apparent reference to polygamy.
The Idaho State Liquor Division administrator, Jeff Anderson, said the brand is “offensive to a prominent segment of our population and will not be carried.” According to Ad Age, 25% of the Idaho population is Mormon compared with 62% in Utah. Leaving that aside, Mormons don’t drink so presumably they won’t be exposed to the product in stores.
Anderson claims that the brand is not being “banned” but was not being listed for marketing reasons. He said the Idaho liquor list has 106 different brands of vodka and Five Wives “doesn’t differentiate itself in any significant way…”
Really? He just described 80% of the vodkas out there. I think it’s a clever brand name for a regional product, with lots of marketing opportunities.
Why do large companies suck at new products?
I get this question all the time and the answers are really quite simple. At the top of the list, it’s easier to buy than build. Why invest the time and effort and divert attention from the existing portfolio just to dig a dry hole?
More important is the simple arithmetic throughout the food chain. “How am I going to make my bonus/meet management’s expectations/reach my sales quota – you fill in the rest – if I divert my attention to a start up brand?”
So, if you’re a major player, you have a number of options when it comes to new products and brands.
First, you can bite the bullet and say, as I did at the outset of this posting, why bother? Let someone else build it, I’ll make an offer they can’t refuse. Mainly Diageo, but also others, fit this mode.
If you’re aggressive and smart, chances are, you’re also attuned to the marketplace (consumers and trade) and know how to create demand or capitalize on an opportunity. Just look at White Rock, Proximo, Beam, Campari and others.
You produce great brands and are the sales and profit leader in the alcohol industry. According to press reports, you are about to acquire a large stake in Cuervo, which will be important to your future. Your global strategy of acquisition and growth in developing countries is second to none.
You are indeed the Emperor of the Booze World.
So, how come your senior management skills run from arrogant to stupid? Do you hire them that way or are they a product of a unique management development program?
By the time I got to Seagram, Boodles British Gin was an idea whose time never came. As the saying goes, “She was dead when I got there, Officer.”
The brand was developed in the 1950s or 60s under a license from the Boodles Club in London, founded in 1762 by the Earl of Shelburne, later the Marquess of Lansdowne and Prime Minister. The club, which is 250 years old this year, was named after its headwaiter, Edward Boodle.
Get this — the licensing fee was the gin; use of the name in exchange for free goods.
To say that the brand languished at Seagram is an understatement. The fact is, while some gin aficionados felt it was a great tasting gin, Boodles spent many years in and out of the Seagram hospice companies. The problems – real or perceived – included concerns about the square package (too wide for a back bar) and loss of identity when placed sideways. The “oodles” of Boodles taunt by some consumers added to the death rattle, particularly in light of the awful marketing on behalf of the brand.