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Tuesday, June 05, 2012

Idaho Bans Wicked Sex-Enjoying Women

State Deputy Liquor Administrator Howard Wasserstein responded to my email about Idaho's banning of Five Wives Vodka because it offended Mormons. My reply is below.

Dear Mr. Wasserstein,

Thanks for explaining your reason for banning Five Wive's Vodka. I was concerned that you chose to do so because Mormons were offended by the reference to polygamy--a reason I found suspect given the Church's position that God ordained past polygamy and allows plural marriages in the Celestial Kingdom.

Given what you wrote below, I now understand that it was the fact that wicked, sex-enjoying not-men appear on the label that offended your LDS citizens:
The label depicts a promotional poster for the Barrison Sisters (Google it), a late 19th century New York City vaudeville act, where the women are shown lifting skirts to reveal kittens coverinvg their genital area, at which point they would ask "Want to see my ?". It is not, as Ogdens Own suggests, a picture of five women who came to Utah with 66 men in the frontier days.
That makes a lot of sense to me. If not-men are to to be depicted on liquor bottles, let them be sex-despising prigs like Bombay Gin's Queen Victoria.

That gives me an idea. Perhaps Five Wives Vodka could get back in your good graces by changing their label to feature Phyllis Schlafly' Michelle Bachman, Sarah Palin, Bay Buchanan, and, of course, the greatest prig of them all, Newt Gingrich.

Heterosexually yours

Gen. JC Christian, patriot

P.S. Have you considered my suggestion to ban NutLiqour peanut-flavored vodka. I can't believe you'd allow Gov. Otter to be disrespected like that.

Here's Mr. Wasserstein's full email:

From: "Howard Wasserstein"
To: "Gen. JC Christian, patriot"
Sent: Friday, June 01, 2012 8:15 PM
Subject: RE: Idaho Purchasing Decision

Thank you for contacting me with your comments regarding Five Wives vodka. I appreciate all feedback, whether positive or negative. As a state agency, we represent all Idahoans, not just those who choose to purchase distilled spirits.

Press coverage of our decision not to list the product in our price book has led many people in Idaho, the region, and the nation to come to conclusions about our processes that require clarification.
There are over 18,000 brands/size & line extensions of distilled spirits offered in the United States marketplace. Idaho carries nearly 2,400 of them and of that, almost 450 are vodkas. Of the 2,400 total, 400 SKUs (Stock-Keeping Units or individual items) comprise 80% of our sales. Our sixty-six stores typically carry between 600 and 1,000 SKUs within store footprints that average about 3,000 square feet. Our ninety-seven agent stores carry less SKUs in most cases. Carrying everything available in the marketplace would be unproductive and irresponsible.

Like any wholesaler or retailer, we have criteria that we use in determining what to stock on our shelves. This includes:
* FOB price
* bailment inventory at the warehouse, where we don't pay for it until shipped to stores (not everyone does this for us)
* gross profit
* price-point targeted
* competitive-set where the product will compete on the shelf
* what the sell-in effort to our on-premise customers will be by the broker and supplier
* what marketing is planned locally, regionally, and nationally
* what sales volumes are projected
* the packaging

Much of what my screening team of professionals need was not provided by the supplier. There is a process for appeal of our decision which Ogdens Own chose not to avail themselves of. They went straight to viral marketing. A "brilliant" marketing technique but misleading nonetheless.
The product in the bottle was determined to be okay but average and not worth $21.95 ($19.95 in Utah). The competitive-set where they intended to compete ($19.95-$24.95) has 106 other vodkas, 27 of which are regular, unflavored vodkas.

Again, they did not provide all the data we needed to make a responsible decision. The screening team recommended not to list. Each year, we see upwards of 500 new products and list about 150, meaning we say no more that yes. Choosing not to carry a product is not the same as "banning" it. Choosing not to carry a product is not uncommon either. We don't carry Adult Chocolate Milk (alcohol-infused chocolate milk), for example.

In our response to them denying a listing, we indicated the tie-breaker in our decision was the package. It is a non-descript, clear glass bottle with a plastic cork. Also, it was deemed "offensive to a majority of our population". We did not reference the LDS Church. Ogden's Own did that in their press release and everyone in the media ran with it. When asked about it, I said "yes, we felt it could be offensive to Mormons" but our primary concern was it being offensive to women. The label depicts a promotional poster for the Barrison Sisters (Google it), a late 19th century New York City vaudeville act, where the women are shown lifting their skirts to reveal kittens covering their genital area, at which point they would ask "Want to see my ?". It is not, as Ogdens Own suggests, a picture of five women who came to Utah with 66 men in the frontier days.

Much has also been made of the presence of Polygamy Porter in Idaho. This is a beer product. We have no authority over beer and wine (unlike Utah).
The Idaho State Liquor Division operates an efficient enterprise. Last year, on sales of $144,000,000, we returned over $50,000,000 to the cities, counties, general government, and substance abuse treatment programs that benefit all citizens. We project distributions in the current fiscal year to exceed $60,000,000, money that comes from the willing (consumers) not the coerced. Our prices are uniform across all of Idaho and are competitive with surrounding states.

The net revenues have very little "tax" embedded in the price. A 2% surcharge for drug courts and substance abuse treatment ($3,000,000) is all that's in there, other than normal sales tax at checkout. The wholesale and retail mark-ups that would be present regardless of who sold the products are where the revenue to the people comes from.
While this may not satisfy your concerns, I hope this helps create more understanding.


Howard Wasserstein, CSS
Deputy Director
Procurement, Distribution & Retail
1349 E. Beechcraft Ct., Boise, ID 83716
T: 208.947.9456
C: 208.949.8736

1 comment:

  1. Gerald F. Nordsmunn11:07 AM

    "Wasserstein", eh? Guess he doesn't have an _agenda_, nuh-uh, no, not him...nothing to do with the "Liberty" at _all_.


We'll try dumping haloscan and see how it works.