In the Doghouse

In the Doghouse

A-B InBev Rubs Bud Light in UFC Fan Faces

February 20, 2012

budlightufcmirrorWith its sponsorship of The Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC), the world’s largest promoter of cage fighting events, Anheuser-Busch InBev (ABI) gets ultimate advertising bang for its primary sponsor buck. Since November 2011, when UFC and FOX Sports secured their 7-year, $700 million deal to air live fights on prime-time television, more underage viewers than ever have seen people beating one another to a bloody pulp, brought to them by Bud Light.  The Bud Light logo is imbued throughout all UFC events, including live fights, Pay-Per-View, and television broadcasts that reach 354 million homes worldwide. UFC's 7.5 million Facebook fans have access to live streaming of fights via Facebook, and limitless YouTube videos of bloody fights, promotions, and “pornohol” such as a Bud Light Lime adfeaturing UFC “Octagon girl” Arianny Celeste, in which she's topless, underwear-clad and rolling around in a bed of limes. 

In its 2011 announcement of Bud Light’s UFC sponsorship renewal, ABI boasts that it “will continue to immerse the beer into all areas of the world’s premier mixed martial arts organization.” This includes a thinly veiled effort to target underage youth with graphic violence and sexually explicit ads, especially males. According to UFC president Dana White, "UFC is definitely a younger guy's sport. Our target audience is anywhere from age 17 to 35." 

Perhaps the target audience is even younger than that. Indeed, the UFC openly markets to children, selling UFC action figures at Toys “R” Us, as well as UFC video games and children's clothing. Meanwhile, UFC athletes and White himself have recently come under fire for sexist, homophobic, violent and derogatory remarks, including jokes about rape and sexual assault, prompting letters and petitions to ABI (to halt its sponsorship) and Fox (to drop UFC from its lineup).
Thankfully, some public health and social justice advocates are able to articulate the hypocrisy of ABI sponsoring UFC while it puts a Bud Light Lime sign on a Pride parade program, waves a rainbow flag, and implores "drink responsibly." But the UFC audience, including the general public and youth nationwide, continue to be saturated with more and more graphic violence directed at young people. Brought to them by Bud Light.

FIFA Tells Brazil to Take Public Safety and Stuff It - Demands Alcohol Sales at World Cup

February 7, 2012         

beer brazil_fifa_soccerProving once again that it puts profits before “the beautiful game,” the Federation Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) has demanded that Brazil lift its ban on the sale of alcoholic beverages at soccer matches during the 2014 World Cup. The governing body of soccer went so far as to order that the “right to sell beer” be enshrined in a special World Cup law being considered by Congress. A right to sell beer? How about a right to attend the premier event in sports without alcohol-induced violence? Anyone?

In an effort to reduce alcohol-related sports violence and protect public health in general, alcohol sales are currently banned from football stadiums in Brazil. A World Health Organization study carried out in countries including Brazil, showed that about 46% of violent incidents seen in the emergency room were related to alcohol use. The study also demonstrated that injuries from violent incidents increase with alcohol use. In light of the overwhelming evidence, Brazil’s health minister urged Congress to maintain the ban. Yet FIFA, despite its claims of a mission to “build a better future,” will have nothing of it. Secretary-General Jerome Valcke responded: “Alcoholic drinks are part of the FIFA World Cup, so we're going to have them. Excuse me if I sound a bit arrogant but that's something we won't negotiate.” Clearly when FIFA weighs the money they make from sponsors like Anheuser-Busch InBev's Budweiser brand - which is estimated to pay tens of millions of dollars for sponsorship and exclusive pouring rights - against the health and safety of the approximately 3 million people expected the attend the games, they come up with a clear winner.
FIFA claims that “We use the power of football as a tool for social and human development, by strengthening the work of dozens of initiatives around the globe to support local communities in the areas of peacebuilding, health, social integration, education and more.” And yet, it’s not very difficult to see that demanding alcohol sales at World Cup games will very likely increase violent incidents and injuries, negative health impacts, and social disintegration. Alcohol Justice’s message to FIFA: Stop pandering to Big Alcohol. Back off and let a sovereign country manage its own public health and safety.


Non-Fat, No-Whip, Extra-Cold Venti Chardonnay To Go

starbucksbeer 0January 24, 2012

First it took over every street corner in America; now it's trying to corner the market on alcoholic beverages. That’s right: Starbucks is bringing alcohol to more of your neighborhood cafes. 

It all started in 2009, when Starbucks started selling wine in some Washington and Oregon cafes. Apparently, the little experiment hit its profit targets. The mega-chain now plans to expand alcohol sales to at least a dozen more outlets in Southern California, Chicago and Atlanta. Now, the public can not only count on Starbucks to buzz them up in the morning with a shot(s) of caffeine, but to slow them back down at night with alcohol. How would you like your Merlot – in a grande (16 oz) or a venti (20 oz) cup? Maybe a trenta (31 oz), without ice?

While adding alcohol to the menu may add up to lots more cash register ka-chings for Starbucks, it also adds up to more potential for alcohol-related harm in the more than 12,000 US neighborhoods that Starbucks inhabits. It will ratchet up the "alcohol-is-everywhere" social norms for high school and college students who study and hang out in its cafes. 

If Starbucks is really dedicated to supporting communities around the world (as it says on its own website), it should start by reviewing the cost and kinds of alcohol-related harm going on in these communities. Then it should commit to not increasing that harm by increasing access to alcohol, especially for young people.

*Image courtesy of Global Grind