La. lawmaker shelves bill banning college branding on beers

Source: WAFB
Source: WAFB

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - A state lawmaker shelved a bill Thursday that would have blocked the use of state college logos and branding on alcoholic beverages.

Rep. Cedric Glover, D-Shreveport, scrapped the bill after getting push back from a House panel.

Speaking before lawmakers, Glover argued these sorts of branding partnerships could lead to more questionable business arrangements between schools and private companies down the road.

"'Bayou Bengal' opens the door to 'Big Mike's Malt Liquor,'" Glover said, making up the name of a hard liquor. "I don't understand why it is if there is one, there cannot be the other."

However, lawmakers pushed back, saying alcohol is not illegal. They also cited the financial opportunity that rests in these arrangements, which could be valuable when funding is tight.

"We can also do harm to the youth of our state by not providing these schools every opportunity to have sufficient funding to provide the quality of education that we want for our kids," said Rep. Chris Broadwater, R-Hammond.

The beer Glover referenced – Bayou Bengal Lager – is a real beer made by Tin Roof Brewing Company, located just north of LSU's main campus in Baton Rouge. The beer cans are purple and feature a tiger logo approved by the university.

Last summer, hoping to tap into more business, Tin Roof entered into an agreement with the school, allowing them to incorporate the LSU mascot into the branding for their new beer.

"For us, it's been a great marketing opportunity to get our name out there," said William McGehee, owner of Tin Roof and an LSU alumnus.

As part of the arrangement, 13 percent of all Bayou Bengal sales goes back to the university. In just the past 10 months, McGehee estimates that Tin Roof has given more than $20,000 back to LSU.

Countering Glover's argument, McGehee also said, in his experience, it's unlikely LSU would let anything get out of hand.

"They're very protective of their brand. I mean, it's a great brand," McGehee said. "I don't think they're going to do anything to go down that nefarious road."

Only one other local brewery currently has a branding arrangement with a state school. Bayou Teche Brewing in Amaudville, La. makes 'Rajin' Cajuns Ale.' Lobbyists for the craft brewing industry say several other Louisiana breweries are also in talks to create branding agreements with schools.

Several other states also allow such relationships between schools and breweries.

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