Friday, February 11, 2011

Do We Need A "Truth In Company Names" Law?

We have truth-in-labeling laws and truth-in-advertising laws, yet there appears to be nothing to prevent companies from using terms such as "distilling," "distillery," and "distillers" in their company name even though they do not own a distillery and perform no distilling. So add this to your "buyer beware" list. Just because a company calls itself a "distiller," that doesn't mean they actually are one.

Even though I have had a long career in marketing and advertising I am still not convinced that it is ever good business to lie to your customers and prospective customers. Unless, of course, you're a crook. As a consumer, I choose not to do business with companies I believe are lying to me. Why would anyone do otherwise?

Chalk it up, I guess, to the growing list of things I just don't understand.

10 comments:

Wade said...

Well then I guess you will not be buying anymore Weller or Evan Williams or a ton of other brands owned by the big boys because they are also guilty of this. True they may own a distillery, but it is not the "Evan Williams Distillery" or the "WL Weller Distillery" that they lie about on the bottle. Why do they do that instead of just being honest?

Anonymous said...

I agree with your sentiment. I am unable to recall any instance where a lack of transparency by a corporate entity worked to my best interest. The opposite seems to occur with too great a frequency.

Anonymous said...

You are way correct. However, the law does prevent misleading names. It's just tough to enforce, because only competitors can enforce it (or the government). Most competitors either don't have the money (after all, its much more expensive to actually distill than just call yourself a distillery) to enforce, or lack the motivation.

Ira F. Stone said...

Hey Chuck, love your blog. Can you give an example or two?

Chuck Cowdery said...

The one that set me off, Ira, was Temperance Distilling Inc., formerly BPNC Distillery Inc., in Temperance, Michigan. It was not a distiller under the old name, nor is it under the new one. Kentucky Bourbon Distillers Ltd. is another. So is Phillips Distilling Co. in Minneapolis. There are many others. As for Evan Williams, et. al., Wade, I've never been fond of the lack of transparency but you can always and easily track a DBA name back to its parent and the parent of Evan Williams Distillery is, in fact, a distillery, so at best it's a different issue.

sam k said...

Yeah, I agree, but the brewing industry set this precedent decades ago with the advent of "craft" contracts.

Anonymous said...

I, too, have long been annoyed that non-distilling bottlers may describe themselves as "distilleries". Add "Old Pogue Distillery" to the list. (And Old Pogue doesn't even bottle.) Like Chuck, I avoid buying products from such outfits, even though their whiskeys might be quite good. I don't like being lied to. Some argue that the only thing that matters is the taste in the bottle. But part of the pleasure for bourbon enthusiasts is knowing the provenance of the product. Then we can judge and enjoy the bourbon in a context. Likewise, art lovers wish to see the name of the artist displayed next to the painting in a museum.

I think a requirement for "straight" whiskey ought to be an indication (even if only in small print on the back label) of the distillery that produced the product. Just like the requirement for "bottled in bond".

Tom Troland

stingy said...

I may be slightly off topic here, but my favorite "budget" bourbon currently is Old Ezra, however "Ezra Brooks" appears to be a marketing entity only despite the label noting "Kentucky's Finest Little Distillery". It would appear that the actual maker is cloaked in secrecy. The stuff in the bottle is tasty, but where does it come from, besides a bottling plant in St.Louis?

Unknown said...

Oops! Maybe we need truth in blogging as well...Old Pogue? Just looked...Yes they have a distillery...

http://www.maysville-online.com/news/old-pogue-announces-release-of-limestone-landing-whiskey/article_6c7cc548-07dd-5bbd-96e3-cc314af50dce.html?comment_form=true

Chuck Cowdery said...

Maybe we need a "look at the date of what you're commenting on before you comment" law. This post and most of the comments are from February, 2011. The Old Pogue Distillery opened earlier this year (2012).