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1992.03.13 - New York Daily News - Slash bottles deal (Slash)

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1992.03.13 - New York Daily News - Slash bottles deal (Slash) Empty 1992.03.13 - New York Daily News - Slash bottles deal (Slash)

Post by Blackstar on Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:24 am

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Slash bottles deal

Vodka maker signs rocker as pitch man

By DAVID HINCKLEY
Daily News Critic-at-Large


In the best marriage of public images since Sean and Madonna, high-living Guns Ν’ Roses guitarist Slash has signed a multimillion-dollar deal with Black Death vodka.

This marks the first time a rocker of Slash’s stature has endorsed hard liquor, and is likely to re-ignite controversy over whether artists with a large teenage following, like Guns Ν’ Roses, should make alcohol use seem glamorous.

The question is particularly ironic here, since Guns N’ Roses has made as many headlines for personal excesses as for music.

Slash himself has logged at least one stint in substance-abuse rehab.

Black Death, however, knows exactly what it is getting. Made and sold only in Iceland for decades, Black Death moved into Europe during the ’80s and discovered a huge constituency among rock ’n’ rollers taken with the cachet of the name.

Now it wants to conquer America, starting with rock ’n’ rollers. Hello, Slash.

“He’s perfect for the market,” says Black Death spokesman Robert Plotkin. “He was really the only one Black Death wanted."

The ad campaign will begin next month, says Plotkin, focusing on publications such as Rolling Stone and Spin.

The theme has not been announced, but in Europe, Black Death featured its playful image of a skull and top hat while suggesting it tastes better than rivals Absolut and Stolichnaya.

“They might show Slash just grinning at the bottle,” Plotkin says.

Black Death, which says its target market is ages 21-33, prints “Don’t Drink and Drive” on all bottles. It also uses the tagline, “Drink In Peace.” Such sentiments don’t sway George Hacker of the Washington-based Advocacy Group, which studies the way product marketing ties into teenage drinking and such effects as auto accidents and health problems.

“This is very troubling,” he says. “They’re clearly targeting an underage crowd. Why else would they advertise in Rolling Stone and Spin?” Hacker says alcohol producers “talk out of both sides of their mouth” when they use rock stars, then claim their market is over 21.

“By associating a product with rock ’n’ roll,” he says, “it’s connected to youth rebellion and all the rest. And that’s what they want.”

Slash was not available for comment. A spokeswoman said he was happy with the deal — which he proposed himself in a Rolling Stone interview last year.


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Post by Blackstar on Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:39 am

Some more articles on this issue:

AP News, April 6, 1992:

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Feds Tell Importer of Black Death Vodka That Marketing Illegal

EL MONTE, Calif. (AP) _ Importers of Black Death vodka, featuring a smiling skull label and coffin packaging, want federal regulators to reconsider plans to outlaw Black Death because of misleading advertising.

The U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms notified Black Death USA on April 1 that it was rescinding approval of the label in 10 days, bureau spokesman Tom Hill said Monday from his Washington, D.C., office.

ATF officials and Thomas Lines, chief executive officer for El Monte-based Black Death USA, planned to meet Tuesday in Washington to discuss the label controversy. Future imports would be banned under the BATF decision.

″We don’t feel there is a legal basis for this ruling. We feel we have a very strong legal position,″ Lines said Monday, adding he didn’t anticipate ″a hostile meeting″ in Washington.

″We have said that Black Death, according to the dictionary, involves people with bubonic plague,″ said Hill. ″They are sort of mocking it. It gives a false impression to the consumer that it is OK to consume it.″

BATF approved the Black Death label in July 1989, but four months later Congress approved health warnings on alcoholic beverages.

″Should they be mocking the health warning?″ Hill said. ″You could say it is just done in jest, but when you look at ingesting alcohol, people shouldn’t be making fun of it.″

But Lines said Black Death was ″one of the first companies to put the warning on the label before the legislation was passed.″

Additionally, Surgeon General Antonia Novello complained last month that Black Death was blatantly appealing to underage drinkers by using rock star Slash of Guns N’ Roses as spokesman in ads in Rolling Stone magazine.

The Washington-based Advocacy Group, which studies how marketing influences teen-age drinking, said it was troubled by Black Death spokesman Slash.

″They’re clearly targeting an underage crowd,″ spokesman George Hacker said. ″By associating a product with rock ‘n’ roll, it’s connected to youth rebellion and all the rest.″

Black Death USA said it targets young people, but not underage drinkers.

″We did a lot of market research with this product and we would not have brought it to the market if that marketing showed it was targeting underage people,″ said Lines.

Beet-based Black Death vodka is distilled in Belgium and imported into the United States by Black Death USA’s Cabo Distributing.

Black Death has had problems before. In August 1990, British soccer authorities struck down a sponsorship plan that would have had players from fourth-division Scarbourough, England, wearing Black Death vodka ads.

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Entertainment Weekly, April 17, 1992:

Controversy surrounds Slash's new vodka

REBECCA ASCHER-WALSH

Does Slash make you want to reach for a drink? That’s what Black Death USA was hoping when it signed on the Guns N’ Roses guitarist, an admitted former drug user, to advertise its Black Death vodka. The company apparently considers Slash (a.k.a. Saul Hudson) an appropriate huckster, even though he has said that alcohol fueled his wild reputation.

But Black Death won’t be the drink you’re pouring if the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms has its way. ”What’s in the bottle is fine — it’s what’s on the bottle that’s questionable,” says bureau spokesman Tom Hill. The label, which features a top-hatted skull, is the same one the department approved in 1989. Yet Hill says it is ”somehow mocking the [recently added federal] health warning,” which warns drivers and pregnant women against consuming it. The bureau also dislikes the vodka’s coffin-shaped promotional packaging and the Slash-for-Black-Death print ads planned for magazines like Rolling Stone and Spin. Even if the label is changed, says Hill, ”Black Death means bubonic plague. I don’t think we’re going to allow it, period.”

Slash, who had signed a multimillion-dollar endorsement deal, isn’t talking. But Black Death’s chief executive, Tom Lines, says, ”This is a witch hunt. But these witches don’t have broomsticks. They have great legislative capacity.”

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Post by Blackstar on Wed Jan 23, 2019 2:41 am

The Baltimore Sun, May 13, 1992:

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U.S. marketers of Black Death to rename vodka Black Hat

LOS ANGELES -- The marketer of Black Death vodka said yesterday that it has agreed to sell the liquor in the United States under the name Black Hat, satisfying federal regulators who had concluded that the old label was illegal and misleading.

The announcement marked a capitulation by Black Death USA, which has imported the beet-based Belgian brew for a couple of years and has pitched it in advertising that featured Slash of the hard-rock group Guns N' Roses. The liquor's packaging was decorated with a smiling skull and coffin.

Earlier, the El Monte, Calif.-based marketer had vowed to challenge the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms' April ruling rescinding the Black Death label. That ruling would have banned future imports.

It wasn't immediately clear from the announcement what changed Black Death USA's position or whether the marketer also will alter its name to Black Hat USA.

The bureau had determined that the Black Death name was a mocking reference to the bubonic plague of the Middle Ages and therefore gave a false impression to drinkers. The bureau said the label was inconsistent with the health warnings required on all alcoholic beverages sold in this country.

Black Death's trouble with the government was compounded by complaints from Surgeon General Antonia C. Novello that the liquor's marketing approach was a brazen appeal to underage drinkers.

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Post by Blackstar on Wed Jan 23, 2019 3:03 am

The Star-Gazette/AP, June 3, 1992

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Slash: I just wanted the vodka

The Associated Press

ALBANY - Guns Ν’ Roses guitarist Slash says he wasn’t trying to lead youngsters into drinking through his endorsement of Black Death vodka.

Nor was he in it for the money.

His real purpose in doing the ads? “Just to get the vodka,” he said Monday. "It’s good vodka.”

U.S. Surgeon General Antonia Novel lo charged earlier this year that Black Death was blatantly appealing to underage drinkers by signing the guitarist as a spokesman.

Slash said Novello “overreacted totally.”

He said he agreed to the endorsement in return for a little money, T-shirts and several cases of the product.

Slash, an accomplished guitarist and legendary party animal, has played guitar on albums by Michael Jackson, Bob Dylan and Lenny Kravitz, as well as Guns Ν’ Roses albums, most recently Use Your Illusion I and Use Your Illusion II.
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Post by Blackstar on Wed Jan 23, 2019 3:09 am

The Baltimore Sun, July 8, 1992

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Black Death Vodka sues U.S. over ban

The makers of Black Death Vodka, who tapped Guns Ν’ Roses star and teen role model Slash to be a spokesman for the product, only to have the vodka banned in the United States, have brought suit against Treasury Secretary Nicholas F. Brady and against officials of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms and the Department of the Treasury.

Cabo Distributing Co. of South El Monte, Calif., filed suit this week in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, seeking “substantial damages” and an injunction that would prevent the bureau from withdrawing label approval for Black Death Vodka, which it had previously approved in 1989.

The bureau banned sale of the vodka in the United States in June. The bureau said the administrative action was taken because the Black Death name and the brand’s grinning skull logo combined to create the misleading impression of bubonic plague and poison.

The lawsuit contends that federal officials exceeded their statutory authority.

“We refuse to be badgered and bullied out of the United States,” said a Black Death spokesman.
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