Recently the Founders Brewing Co. was left screaming like Mel Gibson in the kidnapping thriller Ransom — well, kind of.
The ever-growing brewery’s eye-catching baby, featured on its Breakfast Stout label, was forlornly yanked from the bottles after the Michigan Liquor Control Commission (MLCC) raised concerns over the depiction of a minor appearing on an alcoholic product.
This is after Founders’ previous issue with New Hampshire state legislation. Now, it appears, Michigan has followed suit on the matter.
Founders posted this statement on its website: “… We’re also saying goodbye to a dear friend. The baby of Breakfast Stout is taking some time away from his crib after being booted from the label in our home state of Michigan.”
Without its hungry son adorning its labels, and as the ever-anticipated perennial stout season approaches, Founders decided to keep the hijacked tike’s memory alive with some clever marketing.
Founders’ new, baby-free Breakfast Stout label shows a bowl sitting on a table with a note posted on the refrigerator — it reads: “Left the crib for a bit, call me if you need me 616-522-2720.”
The phone number leads to a voicemail and encourages callers to drop a line and share what the iconic beer, and toddler, has meant to them over the years. Here’s what it says:
“Hey! Thanks for checking up on me. I’m currently not allowed in my home-state of Michigan, so I’m hanging in the rest of the Founders distribution footprint this fall. Leave me a message to let me know how much you love double-chocolate coffee oatmeal stouts, where you’re drinking your beer, or, how badly you want me to come home. My Founders family may even use your voicemail for something fun. Maybe I’ll see you again next year … then again — maybe not.”
Despite what many feel is an unreasonable course of action from Founders’ home state, Founders Brewing Co. co-owner Dave Engbers is taking the high-road and appears to be in full compliance.
“Late last year the MLCC contacted us with some concerns over our Breakfast Stout label,” Engbers said. “With respect to the MLCC, we immediately challenged our marketing team to create a new label to address their concerns, but also maintain the label’s characteristics and personality that the beer enthusiast community has enjoyed for nearly 10 years.
“Michigan is the only state out of our current 34-state distribution that has issue with the label,” Engbers added.
While the baby is currently on an extended vacation, the Founders team is optimistic a fair resolution will be met — and maybe one day the iconic infant will come home.
“We look forward to working with the MLCC in the future to see if bringing back the original label is an option,” Engbers said.
“The MLCC has shown a willingness to work with businesses in the past, so we hope that remains true,” said Kate Schwan, a public relations representative for the brewery.
In any event, it will be interesting to see if the Breakfast Stout baby is destined to once again take up the spoon or if the MLCC sticks a fork in him.