Humourlessness. That is often the best claim made against those who are against beer labels and the associated images of, you know, fun stuff. Can't have Santa on a beer bottle because the four year olds who like Santa will expect a Bud or a Belgian under the tree. Can't have a bunny on the label in case children come to confuse the front lawn Easter egg hunt for a seedy tavern on the edge of town. It was, then, with some comfort that I read about the reaction to New Jersey's Flying Fish brewery's line of beers named after local highway exits:
Joe Orlando, a spokesman for the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, said 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. "There's been a brokered peace here," Orlando said. "But don't expect to see it in any of our rest areas."
Initially, that didn't satisfy Mindy Lazar, executive director of New Jersey's chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. "The combination of a roadway and advertising for any kind of a beer doesn't make any kind of sense," she said. But Lazar said Friday that she now understands that the brewery opposes drinking and driving, and she isn't so offended by the promotion. "The one thing that both of us agree is drinking and driving is never an option," said brewery president Gene Muller.
I'm with Joe. Too much of this sort of "associating" can lead to a world we'd never recognize - one where jokes are gotten and giggles had. Let's stick to the Bud and the Miller at the highway rest areas, Joe! But wait - did you see that? The head of the state's MADD isn't offended. That is a start.
And you know what else would help make that start go somewhere? Craft brewers taking a unified and open stance against drunk driving as a key part of the trade's branding. Forget the subtle "drink responsibility" stuff and also that "it really ain't so bad" line. Brewers could jump right in with both dive right into the debate saying there is no place for a night's worth of craft beer behind the wheel. And illustrate the campaign with pictures of a red nosed Santa being driven home by reindeer with Rudolf saying how he's the designated driver... again. Or a fleet of taxi driving seriously bad elves getting their fares safely home. A bit more socially responsible than just the Hooray for Craft Beer stuff and a way to gain a foothold in the moral high ground for the "good beer = good fun" point of view.
Who knows? It could lead to more people saying things like "I am not anti-alcohol. I am anti-drinking and driving."