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US: Vodka ad battle heats up

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The US drinks importer, Millennium Import Company, which imports the Belvedere and Chopin vodka brands, has filed a federal lawsuit in the US District Court for the District of Minnesota against Sidney Frank Importing Co. Inc., over the company's advertising for its vodka brand, Grey Goose.

Millennium is accusing Sidney Frank Importing of false advertising, consumer fraud, and trade libel.

Millennium has filed a motion for a preliminary injunction against Sidney Frank to enjoin Sidney Frank's further use of its current advertising campaign claiming to be the best tasting vodka in the world.

The case follows Millennium's complaint over Sidney Frank's advertising to the National Advertising Division (NAD). The NAD ruled in Millennium's favour and Sidney Frank appealed to the National Advertising Review Board (NARB) which upheld the NAD's decision, saying that Sidney Frank's advertisements for Grey Goose are "inaccurate and misleading".

The NAD and NARB are self-regulatory arms of the Council of Better Business Bureaus and are said to be widely regarded as leaders in the field of self-regulation with a compliance rate of nearly 100%. But so far Sidney Frank has refused to comply with the NAD's and NARB's directive to discontinue or modify their advertising for Grey Goose.

"The entire industry and consumers have been misled by Grey Goose's deceptive and misleading advertising campaign," said Millennium's president, Steve Gill. "It's a shame that Sidney Frank insists on continuing their game of deception. Two well respected organisations have now found their Grey Goose ads to be misleading and we're looking forward to our day in court and to having the TTB and FTC enforce the NARB and NAD's rulings."

Millennium's dispute Sidney Frank is not its claim that it is the leading tasting vodka in the world but that in the list of comparisons made in the advertising Belvedere comes out so badly.

Grey Goose's claims come from a 1998 taste test conducted by the Beverage Testing Institute (BTI), in which the vodka was the winning brand scoring 96. Grey Goose's advertising not only uses this fact but also lists scores of 31 competing vodkas that include a score of 74 for Belvedere Vodka.

The problem with this for Belvedere is that in similar tests that have been conducted since 1998, Belvedere has scored significantly better, including a 91 and a 92.


Sectors: Spirits

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