Brown-Forman Launches “Our Thinking About Drinking” Web Site
Louisville, KY, August 18, 2009 – Brown-Forman announced today the launch of its wide-ranging online Issues Forum, called Our Thinking About Drinking (http://www.ourthinkingaboutdrinking.com), as part of its comprehensive corporate responsibility initiative. “The Our Thinking About Drinking Issues Forum is a robust online resource where one can find a balanced body of research and learn about important alcohol-related issues,” said Jim Bareuther, executive vice president global business development.
With the Issues Forum, Brown-Forman has gone on record to share the company’s positions on significant issues being discussed by a broad and varied range of stakeholders, including individuals, families, local communities, researchers, and legislative bodies and policy organizations around the world. Perhaps most importantly, the Issues Forum encourages others to post their thoughtful comments on the Web site, whether they agree or disagree with Brown-Forman’s point of view.
Bareuther said that Brown-Forman believes the Our Thinking About Drinking Issues Forum is an important foundation and next step in the company’s leadership in responsibility-focused efforts.
“Deciding to be transparent about the company’s positions requires us to seek balanced information, feedback, and insights on an ongoing basis – a practice that we hope will help inform our employees, business partners, and other stakeholders,” stated Bareuther. “It is an opportunity for us – and for all interested parties – to contribute to the ongoing dialogue and discussion about the role of alcohol in society and how to curtail abuse and promote responsible consumption.”
Initially, the Our Thinking About Drinking Issues Forum covers five important categories for responsible alcohol consumption:
• Youth & Alcohol
• Drinking & Driving
• Alcohol & Health
• Marketing & Access
Under each of these categories, there is a summary of research, policy considerations, and Brown-Forman’s position on various issues, including drunk driving, alcohol and pregnancy, legal drinking age, and binge drinking, among others.
The Issues Forum also invites experts to share their insights, research, and opinions on these topics. Marcus Grant, President of the International Center for Alcohol Policies, Betsy Thom, a professor at Middlesex University in the United Kingdom, and Dr. Curtis Ellison, of the Boston University School of Medicine, already have contributed their thoughts on the site. Brown-Forman expects to add more opinions as the site develops.
As the process of posting and reviewing commentary on this site progresses over time, Brown-Forman will share new information and insights in hopes of continuing to move the dialogue forward in a meaningful way.
“As far as we know, Brown-Forman is the only beverage alcohol company in the world that has created such an issues forum, with opinions on various sides of issues, as well as statements reflecting the company’s positions on issues, and welcoming comments and opinions of others,” said Bareuther.
Brown-Forman Corporation is a producer and marketer of fine quality beverage alcohol brands, including Jack Daniel’s, Southern Comfort, Finlandia, Canadian Mist, Fetzer, Korbel, Gentleman Jack, el Jimador, Tequila Herradura, Sonoma-Cutrer, Chambord, Tuaca, Woodford Reserve, and Bonterra.
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• deepening or expansion of the global economic downturn or turmoil in financial and equity markets (and related credit and capital market instability and illiquidity; decreased consumer and trade spending; higher unemployment; supplier, customer or consumer credit or other financial problems; further inventory reductions by distributors, wholesalers, or retailers; bank failures or governmental nationalizations, etc.)
• competitors’ pricing actions (including price promotions, discounting, couponing or free goods), marketing, product introductions, or other competitive activities aimed at our brands
• trade or consumer reaction to our product line extensions or new marketing initiatives
• further decline in consumer confidence or spending, whether related to global economic conditions, wars, natural disasters, pandemics (such as swine flu), terrorist attacks or other factors
• increases in tax rates (including excise, sales, corporate, individual income, dividends, capital gains), changes in tax rules (e.g., LIFO, foreign income deferral, U.S. manufacturing deduction) or accounting standards, tariffs, or other restrictions affecting beverage alcohol, and the unpredictability and suddenness with which they can occur
• trade or consumer resistance to price increases in our products
• tighter governmental restrictions on our ability to produce and market our products, including advertising and promotion
• business disruption, decline or costs related to reductions in workforce or other cost-cutting measures
• lower returns on pension assets, higher interest rates on debt, or significant changes in recent inflation rates (whether up or down)
• fluctuations in the U.S. dollar against foreign currencies, especially the British pound, euro, Australian dollar, or Polish zloty
• reduced bar, restaurant, hotel and other on-premise business; consumer shifts to discount stores to buy our products; or other price-sensitive consumer behavior
• changes in consumer preferences, societal attitudes or cultural trends that result in reduced consumption of our products
• distribution arrangement changes that affect the timing of our sales or limit our ability to market or sell our products
• adverse impacts resulting from our acquisitions, dispositions, joint ventures, business partnerships, or portfolio strategies
• lower profits, due to factors such as fewer used barrel sales, lower production volumes (either for our own brands or those of third parties), or cost increases in energy or raw materials, such as grapes, grain, agave, wood, glass, plastic, or closures
• Climatic changes, agricultural uncertainties, our suppliers’ financial hardships or other factors that reduce the availability or quality of grapes, agave, grain, glass, closures, plastic, or wood
• negative publicity related to our company, brands, personnel, operations, business performance or prospects
• product counterfeiting, tampering, or contamination and resulting negative effects on our sales, brand equity, or corporate reputation
• adverse developments stemming from state, federal or other governmental investigations of beverage alcohol industry business, trade, or marketing practices by us, our distributors, or retailers
• impairment in the recorded value of inventory, fixed assets, goodwill or other intangibles