Comment

Do you buy the Wild Geese, Pernod Ricard conspiracy theory? - Editor's Viewpoint

Most popular

Should Pernod dump wine, bunk up with Brown-Forman

Why Brown-Forman will be one of spirits' winners

Retaliatory tariffs "wild card" for Brown-Forman

Diageo in North America - Focus

MORE

In our coverage of the legal ruling in favour of Irish whiskey brand The Wild Geese in Australia yesterday, I sensed a conspiracy theory of pretty impressive proportions. Could the dominant player in the Irish whiskey sector really have been looking to ride roughshod over one of its much smaller competitors?

Is Jameson the real reason behind Pernod Ricards legal clash with The Wild Geese?

Is Jameson the real reason behind Pernod Ricard's legal clash with The Wild Geese?

Earlier this week, the owner of The Wild Geese, Lodestar Anstalt, said the Australian Federal Court had found in its favour in a trademark disagreement with Gruppo Campari and latterly, Pernod Ricard. At issue had been the Wild Geese mark, which, it had been argued, was too close a name to Bourbon brand Wild Turkey.

With around 55 legal actions in about 30 markets, dating back to 2002, Pernod, according to Lodestar, has been chasing the brand after it refused to agree to Pernod's right to veto which markets Wild Geese could be sold in, in return for producing the brand's liquid at Pernod's Midleton distillery just outside Cork.

Pernod's legal challenge against Lodestar was taken up by Gruppo Campari, after it bought Wild Turkey from Pernod in 2009.

Reading yesterday's statement, it is clear that The Wild Geese believes the reason for the legal challenge is less about the brand name, and more about Jameson, the Irish whiskey category leader (by far) that is owned by… Pernod Ricard.

"These actions sought to limit the market access of the Wild Geese Irish whiskey and other smaller independent brands, of which we are a representative," Wild Geese co-founder Ándre Levy was quoted in yesterday's statement as saying. "Despite the supposed renaissance of Irish Whiskey, the reality is that the industry is still dominated by large organisations such as Pernod Ricard.

"We continue to fight for our right to contribute to the Irish whiskey category. We have been forced to buy Irish whiskey at a premium from third parties who have been able to access whiskey that we are unable to purchase directly from large producers.

"Big company tactics are designed to remove competition," he chipped in.

Irish whiskey: Large eyes, but a small pie? - Click here for a just-drinks comment

What I struggle to understand is, why would Pernod target Wild Geese, when its Jameson brand is all-powerful in Irish whiskey? With sales approaching 5m cases per year, Jameson accounts for around 70% of the total category. With respect, Wild Geese – annual sales nearer 10,000 cases - is at most a pin-prick on an elephant's behind.

When I asked Jameson's owner, Pernod's Irish Distillers unit, for a comment on this matter, a spokesperson declined.

My second struggle is, why would Campari continue with the legal cases against Wild Geese after they acquired Wild Turkey? "As a general approach," a company spokesperson told me yesterday, "Gruppo Campari usually does not comment on judicial matters." It can't be an Irish thing: The company's Irish whiskey presence is limited to Irish Mist, a brand so small that it barely warrants mention in the group's results presentations.

Where is the upside in this fight with Wild Geese for Campari? It is by no means unreasonable, after all, for an Irish whiskey to go for the brand name Wild Geese, an Ireland-linked term that dates back to the 18th Century. But, to suggest there could be consumer confusion between Geese and Turkey, least of all as they exist in different spirits segments?

I don't quite see it, myself.


Related Content

Pernod Ricard accused of curbing Wild Geese Irish whiskey supply

Pernod Ricard accused of curbing Wild Geese Irish whiskey supply...

Australian court finds for Wild Geese Irish whiskey in Pernod Ricard, Gruppo Campari legal row

Australian court finds for Wild Geese Irish whiskey in Pernod Ricard, Gruppo Campari legal row...

Pernod Ricard backs Jameson with US$175m expansion boost

Pernod Ricard backs Jameson with US$175m expansion boost...

Irish whiskey exports set to soar, but lack of brands will hamper growth, warns Wild Geese

Irish whiskey exports set to soar, but lack of brands will hamper growth, warns Wild Geese...

Oops! This article is copy protected.

Why can’t I copy the text on this page?

The ability to copy articles is specially reserved for people who are part of a group membership.

How do I become a group member?

To find out how you and your team can copy and share articles and save money as part of a group membership call Sean Clinton on
+44 (0)1527 573 736 or complete this form..



Forgot your password?