Causing a stir

Has packaging ever got you hot under the collar? So furious and angry that you’d want to get it banned?

No, us neither. But we were intrigued and amused by the story of cartoonist Ralph Steadman’s work for US brewer Flying Dog Brewery, which several bemused readers drew our attention to after it made its way into The Independent this week.

Steadman – and his scratchy, subversive style – is best known for his work with Hunter S Thompson and is often featured in The Independent and the satirical pages of other papers and magazines. He’s also been working for Flying Dog since 1995, creating rebellious inky images that have defined the look and feel of the brand.

The Raging Bitch packaging
The Raging Bitch packaging

But Steadman’s work for the brewer is currently at the centre of a legal case with Michigan Liquor Commission, after it decided to ban a pale ale named Raging Bitch, The Independent reports.

Apparently the graphic packaging, featuring a dog on heat, and its accompanying slogan was ‘detrimental to the public health, safety and welfare’, says the paper.

The label that's caused a stir
The label that’s caused a stir

But for Steadman, it’s the beer’s name that’s part of the beer’s charm. He says, ‘I love the idea of going into a pub and saying [he shouts] “I’ll have a Raging Bitch please!” Everyone in the bar will think you’re taking about your wife!’

And he’s taking the Michigan ban in his stride. In fact Steadman’s even written a poem about it, beginning ‘I can’t believe this thing in Michigan, it’s becoming quite a bitchigan…’

Good to see that Steadman has kept a sense of humour over the affair, and that even something as seemingly harmless as packaging has the power to challenge and provoke.

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