SBD/Issue 235/Sponsorships, Advertising & Marketing

FTC Worried New Bud Light Promo Encourages Underage Drinking

Dozens Of Schools Object
To College-Themed Cans
FTC attorney Janet Evans said that the commission has "grave concern" that Anheuser-Busch's new college-themed marketing campaign for Bud Light could "encourage underage and binge drinking on college campuses," according to John Hechinger of the WALL STREET JOURNAL. Dozens of schools have "protested the promotion," which features Bud Light cans "decorated with college-team colors." Evans said, "This does not appear to be responsible activity. We're looking at this closely. We've talked to the company and expressed our concerns." A-B VP/Corporate Social Responsibility Carol Clark in a statement said that the brewer "told the FTC that the special beer cans will be sold only at retailers whose customers are 21 years and older." A-B said that it has "stopped distributing the cans in communities where colleges have formally complained," and noted that the cans "don't bear a school logo or name." A-B said that "roughly half of its wholesalers are participating" in the national promotion. Licensing Resource Group LLC attorney Michael Van Wieren, whose agency represents 160 colleges and sports organizations, yesterday said that a "dozen of its members have complained to local beer distributors." Evans pointed out that it "may be too late to stop the current promotion, expected to run through October." But she added, "We would certainly hope that something like this never happens again" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/25).

A-B NOT HAILING THE VICTORS: Univ. of Michigan (UM) officials Friday said that A-B "has bent to legal pressure over its attempt to peddle 'dark blue and yellow' Bud Light cans." UM Dir of Public Affairs Kelly Cunningham said that school attorneys "sent a letter of complaint to Anheuser-Busch on July 22 over the campaign," which "included U-M colored beer cans and T-shirts listing the football season schedule on the back." Cunningham said that UM attorneys "have since heard back and were assured the cans won't be sold anywhere in U-M's community, which the university considers to be the entire state of Michigan" (Juliana Keeping, ANNARBOR.com, 8/21).

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