Imitation is the sincerest [form] of flattery. – Charles Caleb Colton
It appears that the Idaho Transportation Department isn’t a fan of craft brew. Or, more specifically, a billboard about craft brew that looks too similar to their highway signs.
So they’ve requested that Woodland Empire Ale Craft take theirs down.
The billboard, created by Oliver Russell, was meant to leverage the environment at the intersection of 11th and Front streets on the connector. As westbound vehicles approach the intersection, they are presented with a row of existing highway directional signs. The Woodland Empire billboard emulates the colors and graphics of these directional signs, but with a headline that reads “Craft Beer–Right Here.”
Woodland Empire contacted the City of Boise prior to erecting the sign, and was told it had no regulations governing design requirements for an on-premise billboard atop a private business’s roof. Turns out, according to Dusty Schmidt, one of the brewery’s partners, this is a very special case. “Because we sit within the city limits, we thought we were in the good, but our brewery also happens to be near the connector, which is actually a state highway with different rules.”
It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission. – Grace Hopper
By no means is this the first time that a business has gone the ‘ask forgiveness’ route with signage, names, or other identifying marks. In recent memory, Boise Fry Company originally opened as Idaho Fry Company, but was forced to change their name after the Idaho Potato Commission determined it infringed on IPC’s certification mark on the use of the word Idaho with anything related to potatoes.
As for Woodland Empire Ale Craft’s sign, Schmidt said the brewery never intended to create a traffic issue, and that the brewery is now in discussions with ITD. “We just wanted to let the 37,000 daily commuters know where they could get a delicious, hand-crafted beer,” he said.
And true to character, Dave Cook, Oliver Russell’s creative director, questions whether it constitutes a true safety hazard given the many other signs and billboards along Front Street. “All billboards distract drivers,” he said. “Especially the good ones.”