In the Doghouse

In the Doghouse

Michelob Now Claims that Beer Equals Health

Doctor Mike, spokesmodel for Michelob     traDoctor Mike likes to work out. Doctor Mike likes to throw himself into his work. Doctor Mike likes to give back to the community. And Doctor Mike likes to drink.

This fictional tippling physician is the creation of Michelob Ultra, a low-calorie “super-premium” beer. In a two-page ad spread in Travel & Leisure titled “All in a Day’s Work (and Play),” the doctor is shown in equal parts working out, reaching out, and letting off steam with a drink. It’s all part of megabrewer AB InBev’s plan to equate alcohol with health and exercise.

“The brand is really positioned around this active lifestyle space,” Joe Lennon, brand director for the beer, told Bloomberg Businessweek. “Our target consumer is somebody who makes a conscious effort to live that healthy, active lifestyle but still enjoys time with friends and having a few beers.”

Michelob Ultra follows a growing trend of alcohol manufacturers advertising by claiming their products can promote health, weight loss, or physical activity. These claims fly in the face of the well-studied and well-documented risks of long-term use. Chronic drinking greatly increases the risk liver disease, damage to the heart and circulatory system, multiple forms of cancers, pancreatitis, and stroke. It can also change mood and behavior—making it harder for Doctor Mike to forge the patient bonds the ad says he values, or to deliver a persuasive pitch to raise funds for his charities.

A stubbly chest and torso with a stream of yellow Michelob Ultra poured over it

Michelob’s reckless resident also conveniently ignores alcohol’s short-term effects on his own athletic performance. A review in Nutrients detailing the effects of alcohol during and after exercise explained that alcohol in the body disrupts metabolism and protein synthesis, preventing the body from recharging its energy stores and rebuilding muscles. (The authors also note that alcohol itself is treated as an energy source by the body—no matter how “lite” the beer, alcohol is calories.) But athletes don't need to have to look at biochemistry to see the oxymoron within the idea of an "athletic lifestyle" brew. The NCAA distributes educational materials warning of alcohol’s propensity to derail training, citing:

  • Dehydration and accelerated fatigue
  • Loss of motor skills and strength for up to 72 hours after use
  • Increased body fat
  • Nutrient deficiencies
  • Compromised immune system and delayed healing
  • Sleep disruption

All of the above are major impediments to reaching peak athletic form—and in some cases, to simply being happy day-to-day.

With all that in mind, AB InBev’s offers to let its customers (per Bloomberg) “[paddleboard out and] board the Miami party boat in June, jog through New York City in July, or climb a beachside cliff in Southern California in August” are just offers to lose the benefits of their hard work—and in the long run, maybe suffer worse consequences. After all, having graduated medical school, Doctor Mike should already know that physicians fall victim to alcohol disorders just as often as the rest of us.

FURTHER READING: Outside magazine on drinking and exercise.

Torso photo by Eva O'Leary for Bloomberg Businessweek.

The Two Corporate Sponsors in the Doghouse on AB 1322

August 23, 2016

Drybar Doghouse Revised
Two companies, the Drybar Company and 18-8 Fine Men’s Salons, worked behind the scenes in Sacramento to pass the irresponsible AB 1322.

The bill, nicknamed The Drybar Bill (authored by Tom Daly - Anaheim) will allow unregulated, unlicensed, free beer and wine to be served at 42,000+ beauty salons and barber shops throughout California.

We're putting these corporate sponsors in the Alcohol Justice "Doghouse" for their support of unlicensed, unregulated alcohol consumption and the inevitable increase in alcohol-related harm that will occur in California by increasing alcohol outlets by 41%.

The bill passed with only 6 "NO" votes out of 40 state senators and 80 assembly members. Here are the state senators who deserve our thanks:
  • Steve Glazer (D-Orinda)
  • Isadore Hall III (D-Compton)
  • Ed Hernandez O.D. (D-Azusa)
  • Hannah-Beth Jackson (D-Santa Barbara)
  • Mike McGuire (D-Healdsburg)
  • Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber)
  • Jeff E. Stone (R-Temecula)
Take Action! Tell Gov. Brown we need his VETO to stop the irresponsible AB 1322 NOW!

Big Alcohol Needs to 'Snap' Out of It

July 14, 2016

Budweiser July 4th Snapchat Lens
A recent study revealed that Snapchat has become the most popular social network among teens. The data shows that teenagers tend to be more interested in viewing pictures and video rather than the text-focused media of Twitter and Facebook. It also indicated that teens spent a mind-boggling nine hours a day on media. While tweens, between the ages of 8-12, spend approximately six hours a day on media. During the summer months, it’s safe to assume that those numbers increase.

Snapchat is growing at a rapid rate while alcohol brands have been permitted to advertise on the teen-friendly platform. It should come as no surprise then that AB InBev is among the brands exploiting the platform to market beer. In response to the many red flags being raised, the alcohol brands are defending themselves, stating that they are only targeting users who are registered to be 21 years of age and older.

But that's really no defense at all as the age-gating protections on Snapchat, as on other social media, are a joke. Factor in ridiculously ineffective industry self-regulation through DISCUS and the Beer Institute and we essentially have no effective policies to protect underage youth from paid advertising.

AB InBev has taken part in several Snapchat "campaign filters", including the recent Fourth of July one that featured ‘Happy 4th of July’ text, a patriotic hat, and Budweiser "America"-branded beer cans. This is incredibly risky considering the evidence that Snapchat cannot prevent exposure of this material to underage minors.

Without effective, government regulations Big Alcohol has hijacked yet another youth-oriented social media platform, proving once again that it's time for a change in how this industry operates. And that perhaps a great place to start would be to prohibit alcohol advertising from all social media.