In the Doghouse

In the Doghouse

Pop Scrapes Bottom: Ashanti's Instagram Markets Liquor to Youth

a screencap of an Ashanti instagram post where she praises CirocSocial media is the domain of the young. Adults like to think they understand the digital world, that they use sites like Instagram and TikTok in a savvy and smart manner, but fact of the matter is, most of these sites are vastly more popular among teens. So when pop star Ashanti promotes Ciroc--a flavored hard liquor--she may claim she's talking to adults even while her words fall on underage ears.

The above post, from earlier this year, was posted to her Instagram account. According to Sprout Social, two-thirds of 18-29 year-olds use the service, as do nearly 3 out 4 13-17 year-olds. That is to say, the majority of non-legal drinkers are liable to be inundated with alcohol ads in this manner. Research shows that pop music is a major vehicle by which underage fans get exposed to pro-alcohol messaging. And these messages stick: a major review of the literature by the Alcohol Research Group shows that exposure to these messages directly causes underage drinking.

Time and time again, Instagram has facilitated these celebrity endorsement deals, as have SnapChat and, increasingly, TikTok. Social media is, for all intents and purposes, a town square, and one whose use by Big Alcohol is limited only by a set of voluntary restrictions. (Incidentally, much of the time, the actual town square is also subject only to these voluntary restrictions.) The mechanism through which compliance with these restrictions can be monitored or enforced is based almost entirely on public pressure, but the entire nature of phones are to be private. So when Big Alcohol chases a pop icon to sing its praises online, that all but guarantees wide-open young ears and eyes, with consequences to youth and none to either the retailer or endorser. Indeed, it takes an overt act as stupid as pouring hard liquor into your cereal to draw public outcry.

Ashanti, her cheering friend Fat Joe, DJ Khaled, or any other celebrity should not be expected to report the age demographics of their listenership. While we would hope they would be smart and civic-minded enough to be cautious in their endorsement deals, ultimately it is the brands themselves that need to be held accountable. Alcohol Justice calls for Ciroc and all other liquor producers to end youth-targeted celebrity campaigns. Time for them to grow up and let the kids have their world for themselves.

ABI's Monopoly Moves Must Be Stopped

monopoly beerWatchdog Bruce Lee Livingston Calls for CA AG Investigation of Anheuser-Busch InBev Anti-Competitive Takeover of LA Beer Distributor

Alcohol Justice Executive Director/CEO Livingston today requested a full-scale investigation by Attorney General Xavier Becerra of the attempted takeover of Ace Beverage LLC in Los Angeles. There is a federal court order enjoining Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) to not take over more than 10% of the wholesale beer distribution in the US. However, if this gobbling up of a Los Angeles wholesaler takes place, ABI will control 40% or more of the beer distribution market in California. Mom-and-pop retailers could see price wars, craft brews could be forced off the beer trucks, and illegal promotions and swag could be pushed on beer outlets and bars. Outgoing ABI CEO Carlos Brito could be furthering monopolistic practices in seeking global dominance, at the risk of LA small businesses and vulnerable wholesalers. The antitrust California Cartwright Act and case law need to be invoked to start a full-scale California look-see into Big Alcohol's pursuit of monopoly practices.  

READ MORE about Alcohol Justice's call to stop the ABI takeover

READ MORE - full text of the Alcohol Justice complaint letter

Blood Weighs Heavy on Light Beer

boycott kirin ichiban over their involvement in the Rohingya genocideFor each sip of Kirin Ichiban’s beer that trickles down consumers’ throats, more money trickles into the pockets of Myanmar’s genocidal military, according to Amnesty International. In a series of reports over the past two years, the organization has flagged a partnership between the Japanese megabrewer Kirin and Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd. (MEHL), a business conglomerate directly owned by Myanmar armed forces. In response, the International Campaign for the Rohingya is urging a boycott of the Japanese-based megabrewer as part of a continued effort to halt human rights abuses along the Myanmar-Bangladesh border.

In 2017, Myanmar armed forces, in response to militant attacks on police outposts, began systematically destroying the villages of the primarily Muslim Rohingya ethnic minority. To date, at least 280 villages have been destroyed, and 6,700 people killed by violence, as well as over half the total population forced to flee to refugee camps in neighboring Bangladesh. The remaining half million Rohingya in Myanmar remain at serious risk, according to the UN.

In the case of Kirin, this is not merely a case of money invested in the developing world being appropriated by bad actors. According to the Guardian, unlike companies in the United States (and most of the rest of the world), MEHL holdings are split into ownership by individual military battalions. Amnesty International has been able to track MEHL shareholder dividends down to specific units complicit in war crimes against the Rohingya.

Kirin has expressed concern and promised to start investigating, but to date there is no documented effort to decouple its brewing business from the military. Until it does, Alcohol Justice stands with Rohingya International in urging a boycott of Kirin products.

Products produced by Kirin include:

  • Kirin Ichiban (USA)
  • Four Roses (bourbon, USA)
  • San Miguel (Philippines)
  • Brooklyn Brewery (USA)
  • New Belgium Brewery (Fat Tire, USA)
  • Fourpure Brewing (UK)
  • Magic Rock (UK)
  • Tooheys (Australia)
  • Speight’s (Australia)
  • Panhead (New Zealand)
  • Emerson’s (New Zealand)

READ MORE about the Kirin boycott

READ MORE about how Big Alcohol profits off misery in the developing world