In the Doghouse

In the Doghouse

At Chuck E. Cheese, Wholesome Family Fun means Alcohol

October 22, 2015

Chuck E. Cheese
Chuck E. Cheese has expanded its offerings from sugary drinks, pizza, and arcade games to alcohol. The chain has reported a decline in sales in recent years, and alcohol sales is its response. In offering more alcohol options, it hopes alcoholic drinks will entice Millennial moms to bring their young children to the kiddie restaurant more often, for more than the annual birthday party.

Like several other fast food chains, a number of Chuck E. Cheese locations have started serving beer and wine - the difference? Chuck E. Cheese is perhaps the chain with the strongest connection to the kid market ages 5-12. Of course, the chain says that its model must be approachable for kids.

The risk for alcohol-related harm increases immediately as adults have happy hour while their children run around the arcade. In addition, the children playing and eating at Chuck E. Cheese will see parents drinking inside a beloved children's entertainment brand, and associate that brand with alcohol use.

Doghouse: Four Loko Gold

September 24, 2015

general mills
In a prime example of alcopop producers' youth-focused social media promotion with intensive user engagement, Phusion Projects recently launched Four Loko Gold. The new mystery-flavored supersized alcopop was marketed solely on social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter) for for the first several months of its release.

At 14% ABV and 23.5 oz., Four Loko Gold contains 5.5 standard drinks in one single-serve container, the highest alcohol content of all Four Loko products.

Initially released in just a limited number of states, young drinkers flocked to social media sites in attempt to locate retailers selling the new product. In the meantime, Four Loko sponsored parties and contests for users to find out where the elusive Gold was served. To gain access to the location of the parties, users had to RSVP through social media channels.

Currently Phusion Projects is sponsoring Four Loko Lokoween 2015, a contest where users can enter via text message or Facebook app for a chance to win a three-day trip to the Voodoo music festival New Orleans over Halloween weekend.

Doghouse: General Mills pairs kid cereals with beer

September 4, 2015

general mills
General Mills (GM) has branched out from products such as granola bars, salsa, and cake mix to partner some of its beloved children's cereals with the alcohol industry.

GM recently shipped boxes of its Count Chocula cereal directly to the Black Rock Brewery in Fort Collins, Colorado, to produce the brewer's Halloween-edition Cerealiously Count Chocula beer.

This summer GM also announced a partnership with Minneapolis’ Fulton Beer to create yet another cereal-inspired brew. HefeWheaties is not made with the actual Wheaties cereal, but is available in 16-ounce cans that mimic a Wheaties box.

According to the Beer Institute and its industry self-regulatory code, beer advertising and marketing materials are supposed to avoid elements that appeal to youth. The code lists elements that primarily appeal to children, including but not limited to cartoon characters (Count Chocula) and symbols (Wheaties brand mark), for example.

Perhaps GM is used to advertising cereals like Cheerios, Lucky Charms, and Trix (are for kids!) to children that it hasn't occurred to GM execs or its marketing staff that alcohol is a different kind of product.

Adding cereal as ingredient to beer and using it to promote is a recipe for attracting more kids to alcohol - and as a result, increasing harm.