Templeton Rye has reached a settlement for its three class action lawsuits alleging fraud and unjust enrichment. Although the full details of the settlement have not been revealed -- or approved by a judge -- the Des Moines Register reports Templeton will change the labeling on its bottles and website, which it has already done, and refund customers who bought bottles of the whiskey.
BACKGROUND: You'll recall, the plaintiffs in the Templeton case claimed fraud because "the whiskey - despite being named after Templeton, Iowa and owned by a company that owns a distillery there - is instead distilled and aged at the Indiana factory of MGP Ingredients, Inc. that also distills and ages whiskey for countless other brands," per one of the complaints. Plaintiffs claim had they known it was not made in Iowa they would not have purchased it or paid less for it.
Recall, Templeton agreed to change the "misleading" labels in September 2014. "If it implies that the rye whiskey is made in Templeton, then that should be changed. Anything that is misleading should be changed," Vern Underwood, chairman of Templeton Rye and Young's Market Company, said at the time.
The next step in the lawsuits will be getting a judge's approval of the settlement and getting class certification to determine how many people could be eligible to receive refunds.
THE BIGGER PICTURE: Templeton is just one of several spirits brands facing lawsuits over marketing and labeling practices these days [see WSD 03-18-2015 ]. Although a bit different than Templeton's scenario, Tito's Handmade Vodka, Diageo's Bulleit Bourbon and Bacardi's Angel's Envy are also in the middle of lawsuits. Beam Suntory has been the only company to have a class action suit dismissed. In that case, the plaintiff accused Maker's Mark of misleading marketing and labeling for use of the term "handmade."
TERLATO AND SANTA MARGHERITA GO THEIR SEPARATE WAYS
This one has been rumored for months, but Santa Margherita and Terlato Wines have confirmed today they will be ending their long-term partnership. Effective January 1, 2016, Santa Margherita will be imported by newly formed SM USA, led by chief Vincent Chiaramonte.
"As we look forward to the transition of Santa Margherita to SM USA Inc., we want to express our gratitude to Anthony Terlato and his family and wish them continued success and prosperity," says Gaetano Marzotto, chairman of the board for the Santa Margherita Wine Group.
Terlato, which is responsible for building Santa Margherita into the leading pinot grigio brand in the US at about 700,000 cases, will be taking a big hit with the loss of the brand. But you'll recall, it will be picking up the Piper Heidsieck collection and has announced it will be adding a pinot grigio and Friulano wines to its Terlato Family Vineyards brand.
MORE MANAGEMENT CHANGES AT DIAGEO NORTH AMERICA
Diageo's current managing director of global reserve James Thompson has been promoted to chief marketing and innovation officer for North America, replacing Peter McDonough, who is leaving the company after nine years. Prior to the managing director role, James held the roles of cmo of Asia Pacific, president of Guinness Canada, svp of priority brand for Diageo North America and president and global marketing of vodka, rum and RTD category. The change is effective August 1 and James' replacement will be named in due course.
Other recent changes at Diageo North America include: cfo Diedre Mahlan will be taking over for president Larry Schwartz after he retires; Tom Looney, the current president Diageo-Guinness USA, has been appointed to the role of president, US Open and Control States; and Claudia Schubert, president control states has been appointed to the role of gm, Continental Europe.
FRANGELICO PARTNERS WITH CELEBRITY CHEF. Food Network celebrity chef Giada De Laurentis has inked a deal with Campari's Frangelico brand. Under the partnership, Giada will provide culinary, cocktail and entertaining tips as part of Frangelico's new "Live La Bella Vita" campaign. "There is a global spotlight on Italian culture, cuisine and cocktails right now, so the time felt right to reinvest in Frangelico by tapping into a globally-renowned personality who brings style and sophistication to the dining and entertaining experience," says Umberto Luchini, vp of marketing for Campari America.
"The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any." -- Alice Walker
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