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News Briefs for July 14, 2011

July 14, 2011

•Pennsylvania House majority leader Mike Turzai has introduced a bill aiming to privatize the control state’s retail wine and spirits stores, currently run by the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB). The bill would allow private operators—including supermarkets and chain stores—to obtain retail liquor licenses. The state would be authorized to auction off 1,250 licenses, 750 of which would be reserved for large chain stores with more than 15,000 square feet. Additionally, the legislation proposes several tax changes, most notably the elimination of the PLCB’s standard 30% markup. The recently outlined bill has prompted renewed opposition from anti-privatization factions, and both the United Food and Commercial Workers PA Wine and Spirits Council and the Independent State Store Union have publicly urged legislators to reject the move. According to AFL-CIO president Rick Bloomingdale and secretary-treasurer Frank Snyder, by targeting the PLCB, House Bill 11 will destroy a “public asset that generates close to $500 million in state revenues and taxes each year.” Turzai’s proposal, however, promises the transition will result in “better selection, cheaper prices and more convenience for consumers” and also contribute significantly to state coffers.

•Andy Gibson is leaving Diageo to become chief marketing officer at Foster’s Ltd., effective November 1st. He will replace Paul Donaldson, who has been serving as acting CMO since January. Donaldson will remain with the company in a role that has yet to be finalized. In his new position, Gibson will be in charge of marketing across all Foster’s brands, including Carlton United Breweries, Carlton Draught and VB. Gibson was with Diageo for 12 years in various senior marketing and management positions, most recently as general manager of operations across Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

•At press time, Minnesota governor Mark Dayton had unveiled a new proposal to the state’s congress intended to end Minnesota’s government shutdown. Under the proposed deal, Dayton, a Democrat, would agree to the congressional Republican leadership’s budget terms—including dropping his demands for a tax increase—in return for Republicans dropping their own plans for a 15% cut in the state workforce, among other conditions. The shutdown has held up beverage alcohol licensing and threatened to disrupt supply to on- and off-premise accounts because of the state’s failure to renew “buyer cards” required for retailers to buy alcohol from wholesalers. The shutdown has proved particularly problematic for MillerCoors. The state had asked the brewer to pull its 39 brands while it awaited label registration renewal, filed prior to the shutdown. MillerCoors had been defying the directive, instructing distributors and retailers to continue selling its brands.

•Diageo’s Tanqueray gin brand has a new global campaign, “Tonight We Tanqueray,” featuring film, fashion and music tie-ups. With high-profile entertainers including singer Aloe Blacc, actors Idris Elba and Michael Pitt and model/singer Karen Elson, Tanqueray will release exclusive content and hold events throughout the year. “Tonight We Tanqueray” hosted its first party in Brooklyn, New York earlier this week. Positioning Tanqueray and Tonic as the perfect drink to start the night, the new push will also include an aggressive above the line campaign. Tanqueray’s global volume has been flat at roughly 2 million cases since 2008, according to Impact Databank.

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