Banned Booze

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.

In fact, Steve Conlin, marketing director for Ogden’s Own, has started selling “Free the Five Wives” t-shirts. He points out that “if you’re practicing polygamy, then maybe you’re going to be offended…but, Mormons are not supposed to be practicing polygamy.”

According to Conlin, the designer who came up with the name just liked the idea of five wives sitting around having a drink. (Probably laughing about what a jerk the husband is, among other things.)

There are two “by-the-ways” to this story.

A number of beer products are sold in Idaho that directly deal with polygamy. One is Polygamy Pale Ale and the other is Polygamy Porter. The liquor control division points out that they have no jurisdiction over beer. What? You expect consistency from state government?

Finally, for those of you who worked at Seagram – the Deputy Director for Procurement, Distribution and Retail Operations is none other than our friend Howie Wasserstein. Way to go Howie, keep Idaho safe and offense free.

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