Services and social design

Bootleg Branding

Designer: Martynas Kazimierėnas

There is a moonshine culture in Lithuania and it’s no secret. Some of this illegally produced alcohol is of exceptional quality, brewed only for a close circle of friends. But the law forbids producing and selling the stuff and is constantly hunting for violators, and when buying even small quantities of quality bootleg customers often feel uneasy. Furthermore, since January 2018, all depictions, ads and any kind of encouragement of alcohol are banned by the government, culminating even in ripping out pages from foreign magazines. To help small local traditional moonshine producers, the designer here has created a unified visual identity for bootleg packaging. On the glass bottle, only the volume of the moonshine is displayed: 0.7, 0.5 or 0.2 litres. Nothing else. This approach solves multiple challenges at once: firstly, this quality Lithuanian heritage product is no longer poured into ragtag bottles, plastic containers or even jars, providing the tasting experience it deserves. The benefits for the producer are obvious – he remains unidentified: no address, no brand name. Such a visual identity also serves as a statement against governmental over-control: a free man should have the choice as to what to consume or read in a magazine, even if it has a picture of a bottle next to it. 0.7 also plays with common local slang – point seven and point five are used as code words for the size of the bottle you’re talking about.