Monday, September 17, 2012

Anheuser-Busch, UI & Hawks a Win-Win-Win

September 17, 2012, 12:10 p.m.
Advertising Pays

There are numerous stories of the almost miraculous impact of advertising, including these from the 1960s reported in How to Talk Back to Your Television Set: "Alberto Culver relied almost exclusively on television advertising, and pushed its sales from $1.5 million in 1956 to $80 million in 1964. The manufacturer of the bottled liquid cleaner Lestoil undertook a $9 million television advertising program and watched his sales go from 150,000 bottles annually to 100 million in three years--in competition with Procter and Gamble, Lever Brothers, Colgate, and others. The Dreyfus Fund went from assets of $95 million in 1959 to $1.1 billion in 1965 and concluded, 'TV works for us.'" How to Talk Back to Your Television Set (1970), pp. 21-22.

Now it looks like the story of the joint marketing agreement between the University of Iowa and Anheuser-Busch -- designed to increase sales of the company's beer to the University's college students -- is soon to join those historic tales.

Last week's game did not go very well on the field, or in the adjoining neighborhood. "Football Trash Talk; Iowa City: Where Great Minds Drink Alike," September 12, 2012.

Last Saturday's [Sept. 15] game against UNI went better both on and off the field. The Hawks won, 27-16, and there may have been slightly less drunkenness and trash on the neighbors' property -- although as this picture shows, there's still a shortage of students brought up to pick up. And a part of the reason may still be alcohol consumption. Last week I relayed that the Daily Iowan reported 78 arrests; this morning it reported 119. "Police Blotter," Daily Iowan, September 17, 2012.

Some of the arrest records reveal the seriousness of the problem. (Names, although in the public record and media, redacted from this blog entry for reasons of privacy and lack of relevance.) Note that the legal age in Iowa for obtaining or consuming alcohol is 21. You can argue about what it ought to be, but that is what it is. Of the following individuals, one was one day over 21, all others were under the legal age. Thus, not only were they illegally consuming alcohol; someone had illegally provided them that alcohol. Note also that the blood alcohol level that constitutes DWI is 0.08 percent. All whose blood alcohol percentages were mentioned here were over that level. (Another man, over 21, who tried to enter the University Hospital through a plate glass window, had a level of 0.310.) Here's an excerpt from the report: "[Name], 21, of Cedar Rapids, told officers he partied a bit too hard for his 21st birthday. [He] was found vomiting inside Kinnick Stadium and blew a .123 on a preliminary breath test. He was arrested for public intoxication. [Name], 18, of Iowa City; [Name], 19 of Cedar Rapids; and [Name], 19, of Iowa City, all were found passed out in Kinnick Stadium restrooms within 30 minutes of each other. [Name] was vomiting and [Name] had defecated on herself. All three women had blood-alcohol contents between .127 percent and .177 percent. They were arrested for public intoxication. Men pass out inside Kinnick Stadium, too, as proven by . . . [Name], 19, of Iowa City. . . . [He] was found passed out in a bathroom. . . . [Name], 20, of Iowa City, was arrested after he tried to carry prohibited items into the stadium . . .. He refused a breath test but was charged with public intoxication . . .." Lee Hermiston, "Gameday Arrests Down From ISU Game," Iowa City Press-Citizen, September 18, 2012, p. A1. (Differences in numbers of arrests are due to a "gameday" only count and the Daily Iowan's "Police Blotter" report on Monday from the football weekend -- which showed an increase between the ISU and UNI weekends.)

What also was different this last Saturday was that my eye began to focus on the content of the trash, like that of an archeologist digging through the remnants from an ancient civilization. The ratio of Anheuser-Busch beer can containers to those of the company's competitors was grossly disproportionate -- something I'd failed to notice the week before (although I see one of the pictures I displayed in last week's blog entry does show such a container).

In case you missed the news, the University of Iowa and its Athletic Department have entered into a joint marketing agreement with Anheuser-Busch. The company gets to associate itself with UI athletics with its use of the Herky logo, in exchange for which the University gets some cash. For background and commentary on the Anheuser-Busch deal, UI's alcohol programs, and numerous ignored proposals for improvement, see, among many more, e.g.: "UI Administrators 'Shocked' By School's Beer Ads," August 30, 2012; "'We're # 2!' . . . in Campus Drunks," August 21, 2012; "A Busch in the Hand is Worth . . .," June 16, 2012; "Lessons from Lincoln: Reducing Binge Drinking Hazards," May 21, 2010; UI's Alcohol Abuse: Look to Nebraska," December 28, 2009; UI's Alcohol Problem: Many Solutions, Little Will; Alcohol Back in the News? No, Always in the News," December 16, 2009 (with links to 30 more); "Getting Real About Alcohol," January 18, 2008.

From the looks of the trash this week, it looks like it's a win-win-win. The Hawks win the game, and Anheuser-Busch's sales of Bud Lite and Busch Lite must be way up.

The other thing to notice in these first two pictures are the empty containers of Anheuser-Busch product that have been dropped within arms reach of trash containers that could easily have held them.

Here are more examples of Anheuser-Busch sales at a variety of other locations.

Advertisers are always looking for tangible evidence that the millions they spend on advertising, with and without logos, is actually having some impact. Anheuser-Busch and the University should be very proud of what, together, they have been able to accomplish. The proof is in the trash.

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