Friday, July 10, 2009

Fish “Exits”

The intersection of branding and the ease of taking offense happens a lot more often than you think. So I simply laughed out loud when I read a quote attributed to New Jersey Turnpike Authority spokesman Joe Orlando: “…it’s a bad idea to associate a highway with alcohol. Flying Fish has answered the authority’s concerns with disclaimers that the beer isn't endorsed by the authority.”

See, Flying Fish is naming a limited series of new beers after infamous New Jersey turnpike exits. In fact, the brewery (which was named 2009’s Top Beverage Artisan in the state) has gone so far as to [a] trademark the “Exit Series of beers” and [b] establish a nifty sub-site with an interactive map of the exits themselves. Take a look at this in case you are driving through the Liberty-and-Prosperity State.

The NJ Turnpike people are upset. So are the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers – normally a worthy organization but now a little too strident for its own good. This geographically isolated uproar reminds me of a verse I read years ago:

Hide, hide, Witch,
The good folk come to burn thee.
Their keen enjoyment hid beneath
The gothic mask of duty.

These days, brewers and vintners have more opportunities for “branding fun,” and Flying Fish has managed to stir up a lot of press for a little beer brand. I say, more power to brewery president Gene Muller and his gang – and will some kind Jersey Devil please pick up a few bottles for me before the next Exit SeriesTM beer is sold out?


donna said...

I'm all over this. I've got "connections" in NJ!!!

And I don't know if it's actually an exit, but there is a highway sign in northern Jersey that points you to "The Oranges". I always liked that!

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks, Donna - I wonder if this hoohah is brought to us by the same people who are upset by identifying a garden implement on a vanity plate. Have a great weekend...