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Socially Responsible Marketing

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I returned from TOTC with my eyes opened on issues of social responsibility and the need for all of us involved in marketing absinthe to get together and regulate ourselves before we kill the proverbial goose that might lay the golden egg. We, the marketers of Absinthe Mata Hari in the U.S. (Brand Action Team, Beacon Beverage Imports, Fischer Schnaps, Muso Entertainment) have established a social responsibility policy. To wit, we are not going to promote things about the category, the brand, usage and consumption that would support or lead to misuse. (And I acknowledge there are some things out in the marketplace that my violate this policy, but we're changing our approach as we go forward). Specifically not to be promoted are the fire ritual, potency of the product (alcohol or thujone content), purported hallucinogenic effects or drinking the product straight. That's not to say that we can't talk about these things. The facts of absinthe's proof level, the history of publicity surrounding thujone and mind altering effects et al. are part of the category story. They can and should be referenced in that regard but not promoted or celebrated. I recognize that's a fine line, but it's sort of like the Supreme Court's definition of pornography...you know it when you see it.

 

By the same token, we need to acknowledge that there is going to be consumption in ways we'd rather not see. People are going todrink it straight, they are going to do shots, and mix it with Jagermeister, Red bull etc. and they will try out the fire ritual. Our job is not to prevent that per se, but rather to promote responsible consumption and marketing.

 

 

So I suggest we set up some sort of guidance council perhaps under the aegis of WS or in conjunction with an industry trade magazine or group with the goal of promoting responsible consumption and marketing.

 

 

What do you think?

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It seems to me all of these thing already take place at the WS.

While there may be no official guidance council the members here always

support the proper way to enjoy Absinthe and try to convey that to new members.

But yes there are many misinformed people out there so the more info available too them the better.

Perhaps the marketers should provide this information through their distribution channels

to bars and restaurants that serve their product. In New Orleans last weekend we were in

a restaurant where not only did they light the sugar cube but then put the flaming cube into

the absinthe setting it ablaze. Water was used to extinguish the flame not for a Louch. It was

20 minutes later till the glasses were cool enough that the customers could taste their drink.

First time drinkers see this in a public establishment and think that is the way it should be done.

I politely suggest to the trio from France to try their next glass without fire and they enjoyed it very much.

As far as the rest of it some people will treat Absinthe just as they do rum or grain alcohol. Some

people just never get it and never will.

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It's a great idea for us to work together, and perhaps we can build on what the WS members have already been doing for many years. This is a challenging problem that will likely get worse, because there are (and probably always will be) unscrupulous marketers who are going to tout the thujone, hallucinations, etc. even when they know it's untrue.

 

I don't know if its been done in the past, but perhaps the WS could more actively court media and offer commentary, etc. to get the accurate story out there. I've seen a few quotes from Hiram in the press, so I don't know if there is more to be done or not.

 

For our part, we have been doing a series of absinthe seminars here in Chicago. Unfortunately, even at these one of the other absinthe brands that participates in the seminar simultaneously talks about the tradition yet touts that they have the "maximum thujone content allowed by law". I wonder what they say when they're on their own, without a bunch of absinthe geeks around them.

 

Echoing Butch's story, I was recently disheartened to hear a restaurant manager at one of the hippest new restaurants here in Chicago tell me that she knew the flaming sugar cube wasn't part of the ritual, but that if people are paying $12 for a drink they expect a show so they're giving it to 'em. We just try to focus on the people who either get it, or are interested and curious about the truth.

 

I'd be interested in hearing any other ideas of avenues to pursue, especially if there is more we can do as producers.

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We, the marketers of Absinthe Mata Hari in the U.S. (Brand Action Team, Beacon Beverage Imports, Fischer Schnaps, Muso Entertainment) have established a social responsibility policy. To wit, we are not going to promote things about the category, the brand, usage and consumption that would support or lead to misuse. (And I acknowledge there are some things out in the marketplace that my violate this policy, but we're changing our approach as we go forward). Specifically not to be promoted are the fire ritual, potency of the product (alcohol or thujone content), purported hallucinogenic effects or drinking the product straight.

 

A sincere effort to promote responsible marketing must begin in one's own backyard.

 

From the Mata Hari website:

 

Mata Hari Webpage

 

(1) "one of the strongest traditional absinthes"

(2) Mata Hari is made of the finest herbs, above all Wormwood and Salvia

(3) Highest legal level of Thujon & Absinthin

(4) The fire ritual as the "Bohemian Method"

 

(1) "Strongest" is an obvious reference to "Thujone & Absinthin".

 

(2) This statement, which also appears on the product label, contains an oblique reference to Salvia divinorum (a hallucinogen). "Salvia" is the common term for S. divinorum for both Europeans and Americans, and in common language, refers to nothing else.

 

(3) Aside from the claim of thujone content, the claim of high 'absinthin' is a bit confusing since a major purpose of distillation in this context is to exclude absinthin. For those who are wondering, absinthin is the extremely bitter principle of A. absinthium, which is undesirable in the finished product.

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I don't know if its been done in the past, but perhaps the WS could more actively court media and offer commentary, etc. to get the accurate story out there. I've seen a few quotes from Hiram in the press, so I don't know if there is more to be done or not.

There's A LOT more to be done. And we're always working on it. As the media contact, I strive to give the most unbiased, educational information possible about absinthe when I am interviewed.

 

We've got a lot of projects that will direct both producers and media to the best information possible, addressing all of the common myths and much much more. It will be a while before it's done, but rest assured, it's there.

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A sincere effort to promote responsible marketing must begin in one's own backyard.

To play devil's advocate, they may have made the above decision recently, and haven't begun to update the website yet. I say that mainly because:

 

From Steve:

Specifically not to be promoted are the fire ritual, potency of the product (alcohol or thujone content), purported hallucinogenic effects or drinking the product straight.

 

From the Website:

How to drink Absinthe

 

French Style

 

Put the Absinthe into the glass – preferably with ice. Place the Absinthe spoon on the glass and put the sugar cube on it. Now pour some ice water slowly over the sugar cube into the glass. We suggest 1 part of Absinthe and 4 parts of water. Stir the rest of sugar into the Absinthe if you like it faster …

 

Bohemian Style

 

Put the Absinthe spoon on an empty Absinthe glass and place the sugar cube on it. Pour the Absinthe over the sugar cube into the glass. Light the Absinthe-soaked sugar cube on fire. When the sugar has caramelised, stir it into the glass and mix with water and ice to taste.

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To play devil's advocate, they may have made the above decision recently, and haven't begun to update the website yet.

 

I too would expect that to be the case if this is a recent decision (?), but my point is the horse should be put before the cart.

 

Nevertheless, absinthe education begins with producers, who bear the largest burden of responsibility. An educated, responsible producer is a potential asset to the industry and the category. An irresponsible producer eventually finds himself and his product discredited, thanks in no small part to those who are truly passionate about absinthe.

 

The 'uphill battle' may seem like a steep climb, but it was far steeper when I entered it (via the press) back in the summer of 2000. Much progress has been made since that time, and there is much more to come.

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(And I acknowledge there are some things out in the marketplace that my violate this policy, but we're changing our approach as we go forward).

Steve made an admission and pledge to change. Give credit where credit is due.

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but it was far steeper when I entered it (via the press) back in the summer of 2000.

I believe that! Plus, you were pretty much alone in your endeavor back then. At least when it comes to public voices.

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A sincere effort to promote responsible marketing must begin in one's own backyard.
Agreed. I recall that Oxygénée had the same issues with Doubs where he was trying to market Doubs on its obvious product strengths and the South African website persisted with the "maximum thujone" statement.

 

Actually most of what Steve suggests is already in the Discus Code of Practice. All absinthe companies should stick to this as a very minimum.

 

I wonder which company Sonja was talking about? :devil:

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Well done, Steve. It was a pleasure meeting and speaking with you at Tales and I'm glad you understand the issues we're all facing and how vital they are.

 

I agree that there will always be those who choose the other path, but as the more responsible and honest producers come forward and distinguish themselves the market will take on more perspective.

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(And I acknowledge there are some things out in the marketplace that my violate this policy, but we're changing our approach as we go forward).

Steve made an admission and pledge to change. Give credit where credit is due.

 

Yes, I see that. I didn't quite catch it the first time. I'm glad they've decided to do something about it.

 

 

I wonder which company Sonja was talking about? :devil:

 

The company in question is one whereby the opinions/claims of U.S.-based brand managers are out of sync with those of the producers (as per my recent discussion with the producers).

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I wonder which company Sonja was talking about? :devil:

The company in question is one whereby the opinions/claims of U.S.-based brand managers are out of sync with those of the producers (as per my recent discussion with the producers).

I'm glad you've raised it with them, I was a bit surprised by it. I might have expected it from others, but not that one.

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Ted: We've yet to meet and I look forward to it. As I noted in my original post, and you saw on second reading, I acknowledged that there are things in the marketplace re: Mata Hari that violate the policy. What you're referring to is on the Mata Hari Austrian website managed by the brand owner, Gerry Fischer. We are in the process of setting up a U.S. focused site for Mata Hari where these issues will be corrected. I'll speak to Gerry about how he addresses these things on his site.

 

My point still stands though...as manufacturers we need to take the lead here. And I'd welcome the opportunity to discuss this further with you and will give a call to make that happen.

 

Best,

 

Steve

 

 

We, the marketers of Absinthe Mata Hari in the U.S. (Brand Action Team, Beacon Beverage Imports, Fischer Schnaps, Muso Entertainment) have established a social responsibility policy. To wit, we are not going to promote things about the category, the brand, usage and consumption that would support or lead to misuse. (And I acknowledge there are some things out in the marketplace that my violate this policy, but we're changing our approach as we go forward). Specifically not to be promoted are the fire ritual, potency of the product (alcohol or thujone content), purported hallucinogenic effects or drinking the product straight.

 

A sincere effort to promote responsible marketing must begin in one's own backyard.

 

From the Mata Hari website:

 

Mata Hari Webpage

 

(1) "one of the strongest traditional absinthes"

(2) Mata Hari is made of the finest herbs, above all Wormwood and Salvia

(3) Highest legal level of Thujon & Absinthin

(4) The fire ritual as the "Bohemian Method"

 

(1) "Strongest" is an obvious reference to "Thujone & Absinthin".

 

(2) This statement, which also appears on the product label, contains an oblique reference to Salvia divinorum (a hallucinogen). "Salvia" is the common term for S. divinorum for both Europeans and Americans, and in common language, refers to nothing else.

 

(3) Aside from the claim of thujone content, the claim of high 'absinthin' is a bit confusing since a major purpose of distillation in this context is to exclude absinthin. For those who are wondering, absinthin is the extremely bitter principle of A. absinthium, which is undesirable in the finished product.

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Ted: We've yet to meet and I look forward to it. ...

 

Agreed Steve, I'll look forward to that as well, and I'm pleased to be of assistance in the meantime.

 

 

I'm glad you've raised it with them, I was a bit surprised by it. I might have expected it from others, but not that one.

 

I was also surprised by it, and went out of my way to bring it to their attention in person. In this case, it seems as though the tail repeatedly wags the dog - unfavorably.

 

Producers tend to overlook the fact that brand managers and representatives ultimately represent them. A producer should be as meticulous in educating the extended organization as he would want to educate those who handle his personal legal matters. Oftentimes, the two are not that far removed.

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You must have just missed him then. He was at the Soiree.

I missed him as well, unfortunately. I saw him across the room, but didn't have a chance to get over there before he was gone. Hopefully we'll have an opportunity to meet in the future, and in the meantime, I value the discussion and feedback here.

 

I was also surprised by it, and went out of my way to bring it to their attention in person. In this case, it seems as though the tail repeatedly wags the dog - unfavorably.

 

Producers tend to overlook the fact that brand managers and representatives ultimately represent them. A producer should be as meticulous in educating the extended organization as he would want to educate those who handle his personal legal matters. Oftentimes, the two are not that far removed.

Very true. And even if they do get it and make the effort, sometimes the message still gets changed along the way. And at my particular event, it seemed the brand rep was saying what they thought the audience wanted to hear, what seemed like the "easier" path, rather than discussing the issue in more depth.

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Hey, I thought you were going to call? Anyway, why don't we set up a conference call with you, me and Gwydion to discuss this further...nights, weekends all work for me.

 

Steve

You must have just missed him then. He was at the Soiree.

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