SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE
The Coors Light twins,
who have been featured
in a long-running campaign.
Giving Beer Ads a Cold Shower
The Beer Institute looks to take the steam out of TV commercials.
By JANET FORGRIEVE, Scripps Howard News Service
November 23, 2005
Consumers offended by scantily clad beer babes or predominant placement of beer in PG-13 flicks will have someone new to appeal to come Jan. 1.
The Beer Institute, a trade and lobbying group whose membership includes Golden-based Coors Brewing Co., will appoint a panel to encourage compliance with advertising standards beginning Jan. 1.
Coors built a years-long campaign around its bikini-clad blond twins and is currently partnering with Maxim to sponsor a nationwide "Hunt for Hotties."
The Beer Institute's five-member panel will hear appeals from consumers who believe that beer companies haven't addressed their advertising issues, including complaints that beer ads violate decency standards or purposely appeal to those under 21.
The institute boasts about 100 brewer members from giants such as Anheuser Busch, Miller and Coors to small regional beer companies including Fort Collins-based New Belgium, said institute President Jeff Becker.
"What we want to provide is an opportunity for consumers who have complained and don't agree with the brewer's response," he said.
Under the new program, the institute appoints a five-member panel, any three of whom would hear consumer complaints and then recommend what, if any, action the brewer should take, Becker said.
The five panel members would be financially independent of both the institute and its membership, he said, and would address complaints only after the companies had been given a chance to fix the problem.
Part of the criteria the panel will use is the institute's six-page Advertising and Marketing Code, a voluntary guideline for members concerned about not crossing a line with their ads.
Of particular concern is that they market to a legal beer-buying audience and not to those under 21. Currently, the code calls for beer companies to only advertise products to audiences in which 70 percent or more are at least 21.
Coors has its own, similar code in place and already gets help from a third party. It uses "21 means 21" as a slogan in its current ads.
Coors said it will switch over to the institute's new system.
"Coors believes it is important for the industry to have a unified system and for consumers to have a single, consistent entity to address their concerns," the release said.
Results of panel meetings and recommendations would be made public and would be the main incentive for compliance by members, Becker said.
Members who choose not to follow recommendations would be subject to some negative publicity and possible criticism by their peers, Becker said, but the panel has no authority to demand or enforce compliance.
Proposed federal legislation called the STOP Underage Drinking Act would increase funding for public service announcements through organizations such as the Ad Council.
It would also create a new federal committee to oversee efforts; fund grants for programs aimed at stopping underage drinking; and fund research and data collection on the effects of underage drinking.
The effort, which failed last year and has been stuck in a U.S. House committee since March, would not regulate beer ads.
BEER AD GUIDELINES
The Beer Institute's advertising and marketing code's general guidelines:
# Beer advertising should not suggest directly or indirectly that any of the laws applicable to the sale and consumption of beer should not be complied with.
# Brewers should adhere to standards of candor and good taste applicable to all commercial advertising.
# Brewers are responsible corporate citizens, sensitive to the problems of the society in which they exist, and their advertising should reflect that fact.
Some specific examples
# Beer advertising and marketing materials should not depict Santa Claus.
# Should not convey the impression that a beer has special or unique qualities if, in fact, it does not.
# Should not portray sexual passion, promiscuity or any other amorous activity as a result of consuming beer.