Treading Gingerly

November 12, 2013, by Crafty Pint

Treading Gingerly

A Sydney brewery has been taken by surprise by international “upset” inadvertently caused by one of its labels. The label for 4 Pines offshoot Brookvale Union’s Ginger Beer, which was only released in recent weeks, has drawn a rebuke from a US based Hindu statesman who says its juxtaposition of images of the deities Ganesh and Lakshmi is “highly inappropriate”. Rajan Zed’s statement has been picked up by media in India as well as Australia, leading its producers to take a fresh look at its packaging.

In a statement, 4 Pines said the aim of the Ginger Beer, which features a host of other images associated with Hindu mythology on its packaging, was “to create a great tasting drink representing the flair, feel and colours from the Asian continent, a primary source for ginger, it was not intended to cause any offence.”

Thus, when the reaction was brought to their attention, it was totally unexpected. The Brookvale Union project carries the tagline “Quality Nonsense” and has a website featuring popup images of a Will Ferrell character and Patrick Swayze; at the Australian Hotel Beer Festival, the brand’s stand was kept under cover all weekend and staffed by Batman, Elvis and Where’s Wally (see above), among other characters, suggesting that fun, not malice, was the intention.

“Those who have made complaints have the ears of the team heading this up and who developed it,” says the team behind Brookvale Union. “As it turns out the centrepiece of the label is very Ganesh in its look – we have now been alerted to this and what Ganesh represents.”

They added that “with over 4,200 religions in the world, it is an impossibility for us to be cognisant of every single inference, reference and innuendo we may have unintentionally made during a design process like this.”

It’s not the first time 4 Pines has drawn mainstream media attention. The Vostok Space Beer program earned plenty of column inches the world over, while earlier this year they created the World’s Best Beer Trip competition to send one winner around the world to work and play at six breweries. But this is the first time they’ve drawn negative coverage – and indeed the attention of a global religion.

Zed, who is president of the Universal Society of Hinduism – an association he formed in part to enhance understanding of Hinduism, said in a statement that “inappropriate usage of Hindu deities or concepts or symbols for commercial or other agenda was not okay as it hurt the devotees.”

Another Hindu website has called on “all Hindus to protest lawfully against ‘Brookvale Union’ so that they should withdraw the picture of Shri Ganesh And Shri Lakshmi Mata from their products and also they should tender unconditional apology to Hindus for hurting their religious sentiments.”

As a result, 4 Pines has stated that: “With recent feedback brought to our attention, we will be looking at design options for our bottles and packaging.”

Photo at the top taken from the Australian Heritage Hotel’s Beer Festival coverage.

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