Saturday, June 16, 2012

A Busch in the Hand is Worth . . .

June 16, 2012, 10:50 a.m.-June 22, 2012 5:45 a.m.

Who Knows? They Won't Tell Us

In exchange for all the beer he can drink, the University of Iowa's athletic "Herky" the Tigerhawk has signed a contract with Anheuser-Busch, brewers of Budweiser, to walk behind the Budweiser Clydesdales and pick up . . . well, a big bag of change.

How much? Herky can't talk, and UI administrators won't.

In a if-you-can't-beat-'em-join-'em switch in policy, the University has decided to join the company's push to encourage college students' binge drinking by linking its most prominent and popular logo with alcohol -- but this time share in the significant profits that will be produced by this joint venture. For example, did you know "For all of 2009, [Anheuser-Busch] posted a profit of $4.6 billion on $36.8 billion in revenue"?

Showing admiration and appreciation for the University of Iowa students' binge drinking reputation, a reputation that has made the UI one of the top party schools in the nation, an anonymous industry observer commented, "I have to say, now that Bud's bagged the UI's students I have to switch its stock from a 'hold' to a 'buy.' This one's big!" [Photo credit: Nicholas Johnson, Sept. 8, 2007, football game, scheduled times and bars for group binge drinking]

"Clyde Miller was right," he continued, crediting the originator of the quote, "It takes time, yes, but if you expect to be in business for any length of time, think of what it can mean to your firm in profits if you can condition a million or ten million children who will grow up into adults trained to buy your product as soldiers are trained to advance when they hear the trigger words 'forward march.'" [The quote appears in Nicholas Johnson, Test Pattern for Living (1972), Chapter 4, "Caution! Television Watching May Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health," p. 46, and Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders (1957), pp. 158-59.]

While this proposition applies to any product, it is of course particularly powerful if the products have potentially addictive qualities, such as tobacco and alcohol, and are unlikely to be taken up later in life if not first marketed to children from their pre-teens through college.

That's why this contract is such a win-win for everyone -- Anheuser-Busch's shareholders, the UI's administrators and coaches, and, of course, Herky. You can see from the photo how handicapped Herky now is in getting girls when everyone's sober and he has to stand, and so far away from them, for just a light kiss. [Photo Credit: Kyra Seay]

Well, there are some downsides, I suppose. UI students' consumption of alcohol, especially the binge drinking, seems to be involved in most of their arrests, fights, property damage, sexual assaults, criminal records, hospitalizations, accidental injuries, jail time, auto accidents and deaths, unwanted pregnancies, poor grades, the resulting early dropouts from school, and those dropped off of athletic teams.

But we must not jump to conclusions.

After all, as the ancient sages have often reminded us, "A correlation is not a cause." Who can know how much of this behavior would have occurred without alcohol? Unfortunately, as scientists remind us, it is impossible to find out, because there are apparently no colleges or universities in this country for which binge drinking is not a problem.

So until a university can be found where a controlled experiment can resolve once and for all whether alcohol is, in fact, a cause of this student misery and misdirection, it's best that higher education simply profit from it. After all, boys will be boys, and girls will be . . . well, girls will be abused. That's just the way it is.

With legislatures rapidly turning "public" universities into private universities, the money has to come from somewhere. This leaves public universities with two urgent missions: (1) to create the appearance of making modest reductions in what will be, of course, the ever-escalating rate of increases in students' tuition, while simultaneously (2) obtaining the revenue necessary to provide the essential and deserved immodest increases in administrators' income.

For more on the subject, see "UI's Alcohol Problem: Many Solutions, Little Will; Alcohol Back in the News? No, Always in the News," December 16,2009 (with links to 31 additional prior blog entries on the subject).

Here are some additional things to look for in the excerpts from the Register's story, below:

(1) Responsibility Matters. The two words "Responsibility Matters," to be included in the advertising designed to increase beer consumption and corporate profits, apparently were shrewdly slipped by the Anheuser-Busch lawyers. As everyone knows, and UI President Mason confirms (near the end of the following excerpts), there must be a body of literature somewhere regarding the impact of this very powerful phrase on excessive consumption of alcohol.

Apparently, the following scenario is not uncommon. Imagine a college-age binge drinker, having consumed three servings of beer in short order on his way to the definitional five (for "binge drinking"). When his eye catches one of the numerous signs advertising Budweiser beer, and he sees those two very powerful words, "responsibility matters," he immediately stops drinking, abandons his goal, and apologizes for his earlier boorish behavior. Who would have guessed? But you can't argue with science.

I have earlier written, "Telling officials always to TIF 'prudently' has proved as effective as liquor companies’ TV commercials, urging University of Iowa binge-drinking students always to 'drink responsibly.'" Nicholas Johnson, "Making a 'Prudent TIF' More Than an Oxymoron," Iowa City Press-Citizen, November 29, 2011, p. A7, embedded in "TIF Impact Statements," November 29, 2011.

Apparently I was wrong about that. However imprudent most TIFs turn out to be, "drink responsibly" or "responsibility matters," really do have a powerful impact on what would otherwise be college students' binge drinking. I now apologize for the inaccurate analogy to "TIF prudently," which as we all know has no effect on public officials whatsoever.

Fortunately, "Responsibility Matters," which has such an enormous impact in reducing college students' harmful behavior, does not interfere in any way with the normal decision-making processes of adults, especially educational administrators.

(2) UI Researchers Find, Reveal "Advertising Does Not Pay. Apparently the UI has pulled an even bigger scam on Anheuser-Busch than first revealed with the powerful "Responsibility Matters" campaign. The Daily Iowan reported June 21 that UI administrators and academics were questioning whether Anheuser-Busch would be getting anything at all for its advertising dollars invested in this deal, downplaying the notion that advertising has any effect on sales. Imagine the shock for Anheuser-Busch's shareholders and executives once they take a good hard look at this new data and realize the $607 million they spent on media advertising in 2006 had no impact whatsoever on sales. Wow, I'd hate to be trying to explain that at the next A-B board of directors meeting! Think of how silly the other major corporations are going to feel. Total projected media ad buys this year are estimated to reach $169.5 Billion. Super Bowl 30-second ads averaged $3.5 Million this year. All wasted.

For source material see, Amy Skarnulis, "Officials, Students Split on UI Anheuser-Busch Deal's Impact," The Daily Iowan, June 21, 2012 ("[O]pinions differ on whether or not the contract between Anheuser-Busch and the university would actually affect students' drinking habits. [A UI marketing professor] said he doesn't necessarily think the contract alone will encourage students to drink more. . . . [The official statement from a top University administrator declared] 'use of the Tigerhawk logo [to] be accompanied by the phrase 'Responsibility Matters' is consistent with our alcohol harm reduction initiative,' . . .. [Students agree; one is quoted as saying,] 'I really don't think it [the advertising campaign] will have that much of an effect.'"). "US Online Ad Spend Set to Exceed Print,", January 19, 2012; Charles B. Stockdale, Michael B. Sauter and Ashley C. Allen, "Companies that have wasted the most on Super Bowl advertising," The Bottom Line, MSNBC, February 4, 2012; Center for Science in the Public Interest,"Alcohol Policies Project Fact Sheet; Putting Anheuser-Busch’s Consumer Responsibility Campaign into Perspective," December 20008.

(3) Use of funds. Please note that "All proceeds from the beer deal will fund the university’s alcohol harm reduction plan."

As the one-time chair of the FCC, Rosel Hyde, used to tell us commissioners from time to time, "'The Lord giveth, and the Lord taketh away.' What could be fairer than that?" [Job 1:21, King James version.] The University can giveth to Anheuser-Busch's profits with the partnership that increases beer consumption and the consequences of binge drinking, and then taketh away all adverse consequences for students with UI's alcohol harm reduction plan. Who can argue with that Biblical truth?

Although it does seem that what the UI is doing is reminiscent of Jerry Seinfeld's effort to get inside the head of a race horse: "I’m sure the horses have some idea that the Jockey is in a big hurry. . . . [B]ut the horse must get to the end [and think], 'We were just here, what was the point of that!? This is where we were! That was the longest possible route you could take! If we just stayed here, we would of been first.'" "Jerry Seinfeld Stand-Up Routine," That's the kind of common horse sense that apparently went unspoken with regard to this Anheuser-Busch deal.

What is this about? The UI is going to do its damnedest to accelerate the consumption of alcohol by our students, and in the process Anheuser-Busch's profits. After all, that's why for-profit corporations advertise, especially with emotionally compelling logos for children, such as Joe Camel (to encourage smoking) or Herky (to encourage drinking). And the school is doing this to accomplish what? To raise money for its "alcohol harm reduction plan"?

Res ipsa loquitur is a legal phrase from tort law, when it is clear who is responsible for a negligent act. It means "the thing speaks for itself." (All of which prompted my torts professor, Texas' beloved Page Keeton to comment, "If the thing speaks for itself, why in the hell doesn't it speak English?")

In short, I think if the University is endeavoring to increase alcohol consumption to fund its "alcohol harm reduction plan," no more really need be said. Res ipsa loquitur.

(4) What's our cut? So we've established that UI's administrators and coaches are willing to sacrifice their students' health and welfare to raise more money. OK. That's not so uncommon.

After all, many of the nation's grade schools and high schools deliberately contribute to their students' likelihood of rotten teeth, obesity, and diabetes in exchange for the funds provided by their bottled beverage machines (that funnel most of the money to the sugared drink manufacturer and distributor). They do it with soda pop, the UI will do it with beer. What's the big deal? College students prefer beer.

If the NCAA disapproves of athletic programs' ties to the gambling industry, and yet the UI Athletic Department goes ahead and puts ads for a local casino on the football scoreboard, and provides the casino a sky box (with alcohol) for its high rollers, why should it feel restrained by the NCAA's discouragement of ties to the alcohol industry?

Like Steve Martin's Mavin Johnson character in the movie, "The Jerk," I, too, finally get it: "This is a profit deal" -- or, given the UI's non-profit status, an effort to increase cash flow. That being the case, since cash rather than student welfare is the goal, it seems to me the public and media have a right to know how much cash is involved, how financially successful is this tradeoff of values, and how the revenue from increased beer consumption will be divided between the company and the university.

There are bound to be nanny naysayers who will object to this creative revenue enhancing scheme. Let's bowl them over with just how much money this is going to produce. And then see if they still want to object.

So isn't it kind of counter productive (as the Register reports), that "[UI President Sally] Mason declined to say how much money the university will receive . . ."?

[Illustrative of the naysayers is UI Professor Jeffrey Cox, of whom the Register says, "The new deal [between the UI and Anheuser-Busch] highlights the ongoing conflict between the multibillion-dollar business of U.S. college athletics and the academic mission of universities and their efforts to curb students’ overconsumption of alcohol.

"Jeffrey Cox, a history professor on the U of I President’s Committee on Athletics, said it’s hypocritical for the university to spend money to curb drinking and arrest students for alcohol violations while also accepting money from beer companies.

"'I’ve said that repeatedly, and I’ll say it again. But it hasn’t really changed anybody’s minds,' he said."]

(5) "But Billy's mommy lets him do it." The Register's research reveals that, "Seven Big Ten Conference schools . . . said they had no sponsorships with companies that sell alcohol."

Some will try to argue that the UI shouldn't be doing what other Big 10 schools find ethically repulsive. I say, "Balderdash!" What is leadership anyway, if it's not a willingness to speak out and stand up for what you believe to be right, regardless of what the crowd says?

You mark my words, when those seven backward schools find out how much money the UI will be making from pushing beer consumption on its students, those other Big Ten universities are going to be coming around to the UI's plan pretty darn fast.

As the dogs have been heard to say in the Alaska Iditarod, "If you're not the lead dog, the view never changes."

I'm proud that the UI is the lead dog in this race for the money. It's looking straight ahead, it can enjoy the view (and the money); it is the leader of this pack of dogs.

(6) Where Next? Following UI's monopoly contract with Coca Cola (increasing the price on a popular beverage that contributes to dental decay, diabetes, and obesity), and alcohol (a factor in virtually all student problems), what other revenue possibilities are there for a university willing to profit from its students? Yale Cohn offered a suggestion in this morning's Press-Citizen as a guest cartoonist. [June 21, 2012, p. 7A; unavailable online.] He pictures a box of 30 1 mg tablets of Rohypnol" (Flunitrazepam) with the Tigerhawk logo and "Hawkeyes" proudly displayed on the box. He captions the cartoon: "What with the U of I signing a marketing contract with Anheuser-Busch, might as well go 'all in.'" The P-C's editor adds the explanatory note, "Rohypnol is commonly known as 'Roofies' and 'The Date Rape Drug.'" What other possibilities might we be able to come up with?

(7) What's New [June 22]? So what have we learned from this morning's Register story, below? (1) The UI (like virtually every other corporate and governmental institution in the country, up to and including the White House regardless of party) has yet to learn the principles of Crisis Communications 101. For example, it's better to provide fulsome information, explanations (and apologies when appropriate) at the outset than to go through the inevitable drip-drip-drip of revelations. "Crisis Communications 101," February 14, 2011. (2) The University's marketing of its good name, logos and students provides, not $50,000 but $5.8 million (this past year), with a promise of over $8 million a year for the next 14 years ($114 million through 2025-26). The funding of anti-binge-drinking programs has actually been cut, not increased. (3) Although UI has not yet reversed its position regarding use of the Tigerhawk logo on cans of Bud beer (that always remains a possibility), this agreement with Anheuser-Busch is not limited, as early reports had it, to posters. It apparently includes the right to a proclamation of the UI-Bud partnership on everything from shirts and hats to cups.

So what are the implications of (2), above? Where is this $114 million coming from, why, and where is it going? How will all this affect funding of the anti-binge-drinking programs?

UI, Hawkeye Sports Properties, and Learfield first said they couldn't and wouldn't even tell the media and public how much they got for selling off the University's name and logos to the cause of beer marketing. (No big deal, given these numbers, but even that report had to be revised. We were first told it was $50,000 a year, which somehow totaled $185,000 over four years. Now we see it starts at $43,000. Whatever.) But $185,000 is but 1/2 of 1% of the $32 million marketing dollars over four years (and but 16/100th of 1% of the contract term's $114 million. So where's the 99% coming from? For what? What else are we marketing? How much is it producing?

Where is this money going? Is it all going into coaches' salaries and other athletic program expenses (aside from the pittance going to reducing the alcohol problem the contract is otherwise promoting)? How much is going to help reduce the tuition now charged student drinkers and non-drinkers alike? The "University of Iowa" is really two major, corporation-like operations, and one minor endeavor -- the UIHC, the athletic department, and the instructional and research activities elsewhere on campus. How much of all this income is going to the cash-strapped educational mission?

According to the story, the UI was budgeting $500,000 a year for anti-binge-drinking efforts. (It would be interesting to know what was, and was not, included in that figure.) This year, that figure was cut to $300,000. Thus, the net effect of this Anheuser-Busch deal, promoting the sale of beer while providing money for the UI to discourage its consumption, will be to decrease rather than increase the program's funding. If this year's funding is continued at the $300,000 level, the program will have been cut only $157,000 rather than $200,000. That's better than eliminating it entirely, I suppose, but it's scarcely a big boost to what the UI was doing just last year.

And what about (3), above -- the expansion of A-B's use of the Tigerhawk logo from "retail displays such as posters and flags" (as we were originally told) to caps, shirts, and cups. Once the UI's students are gathered under Bud banners blowing in the wind, wearing their Bud hats, and their Bud shirts, and pouring their Bud into Bud cups, someone please tell me how that's a big improvement over keeping the Tigerhawk off of the can from which the beer was poured? Can the company insist coaches and players wear a Bud logo on their uniforms, along with the Nike swish? Will the Anheuser-Busch flag fly from the stadium along with those of other Big 10 schools? No, based on what has already been agreed to, this could blossom forth as a complete Anheuser-Busch take-over of UI's football Saturdays.

Who remembers Nile Kinnick anyway besides me? Why don't we just move his statue, take his name off the stadium, and re-christen it the "Anheuser-Busch Stadium"?

(8) Iowa Fight Song revisions. Although it's not yet been officially announced, I understand Anheuser-Busch has approved the revisions in the Iowa Fight Song the UI Music Department has been requested to prepare. Here are the original words, followed by the new version:

The word is "Fight! Fight! Fight! for IOWA,
Let every loyal Iowan sing;
The word is "Fight! Fight! Fight! for IOWA,"
Until the walls and rafters ring (Go Hawks!)
Come on and cheer, cheer, cheer, for IOWA
Come on and cheer until you hear the final gun.
The word is "Fight! Fight! Fight! for IOWA,"
Until the game is won.

We're going to "Drink! Drink! Drink! for IOWA,
Give every loyal Iowan some booze;
We're going to "Drink! Drink! Drink! for IOWA,
'Cause if you snooze you loose (Go Hawks!)
Bring on the beer, beer, beer, for IOWA
Come on and drink until you fall down on the floor.
We're going to "Drink! Drink! Drink! for IOWA,
And then we'll drink some more.

Of course, the official University of Iowa anthem indicating the final end of home football games will remain the much beloved "In Heaven There Is No Beer":

In Heaven there is no beer
(No beer?!)
That's why we drink it here
And when we're all gone from here
Our friends will be drinking all the beer.


For details on the contract, see Jens Manuel Krogstad, "Anheuser-Busch, U of I make deal on use of logo; U of I president sees no conflict with stance against binge drinking," Des Moines Register, June 15, 2012:
The University of Iowa and Anheuser-Busch have renewed their relationship, a move some say conflicts with the university’s high-profile
responsible-drinking campaign.

A new four-year agreement approved this month by the U of I athletic department allows Anheuser-Busch to place Iowa’s Tigerhawk logo on retail displays such as posters and flags, and promotional giveaways like cups, caps and T-shirts.

The Tigerhawk may appear alongside Anheuser-Busch beer logos like Budweiser, Busch, Michelob and Natural Light. All the items the logo will appear on, however, require athletic department approval, and must include the message “Responsibility Matters.”

The new deal highlights the ongoing conflict between the multibillion-dollar business of U.S. college athletics and the academic mission of universities and their efforts to curb students’ overconsumption of alcohol. . . .

All proceeds from the beer deal will fund the university’s alcohol harm reduction plan, launched in 2010 to reduce binge drinking, said Sally Mason, president of the U of I . . ..

[UI President Sally] Mason declined to say how much money the university will receive . . ..

[T]he agreement stands out among U of I’s peers.

Seven Big Ten Conference schools reached Thursday [June 14] by The Des Moines Register said they had no sponsorships with companies that sell alcohol: Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State and Purdue. . . .

Financial details and copies of the sponsorship agreement are not available because officials at the taxpayer-funded university contend the contract is not a public record. . . .

University officials disagree on whether the Anheuser-Busch sponsorship conflicts with the university’s efforts to curb binge drinking. . . .

[UI President Sally] Mason defended the deal Thursday, . . .. “The requirement that the possible use of the Tigerhawk logo be accompanied by the phrase ‘Responsibility Matters’ is consistent with our alcohol harm reduction initiative. The university will continue to emphasize that students and fans should consume alcohol only in a legal, safe and responsible manner."

Members of a committee [the UI President's Committee on Athletics] charged with advising the athletics department on various issues first learned of the new sponsorship deal Thursday [June 14] from The Des Moines Register . . ..

[The Chair] said it’s unclear to him whether a beer corporation’s “Responsibility Matters” advertising campaign will help or hurt the university’s efforts to encourage responsible alcohol use. . . .

[Another member noted] “I believe that participating in a corporate campaign whose ultimate aim is to increase beer sales to persons who have a positive regard for
university athletics (students, fans, alums) is probably a poor idea and one that undermines our efforts to encourage the responsible use of alcohol."

Versions of this story have also appeared in the Iowa City Press-Citizen as Jens Manuel Krogstad, "Busch, UI Make Deal on Logo Use; President Sees No Conflict with Stance Against Binge Drinking," Iowa City Press-Citizen, June 15, 2012, p. A1, and The Gazette as "Iowa Signs Marketing Deal with Anheuser-Busch," Associated Press/The Gazette, June 16, 2012, p. B4. And see Aly Brown, "Busch's UI Deal Draws Fire; Learfield Communications Will Pay the UI Athletics Department $114 million through 2026 as Part of a Larger Deal," The Daily Iowan, June 19, 2012, p. A1, and the commentary, Ben Evans, "A Little Busch Goes a Long Way," The Daily Iowan, June 18, 2012, p. A4.

This morning [June 22]the Register's Jens Manuel Krogstad shares more of what he's been able to pull out of the UI: Jens Manuel Krogstad, "Anheuser-Busch to pay U of I $185,000; As part of logo deal, company will help fund anti-binge-drinking programs," Des Moines Register, June 22, 2012. Here are some excerpts:

Beer giant Anheuser-Busch will pay the University of Iowa about $185,000 over four years to help support the university’s anti-binge-drinking programs, an athletics department official said.

The payments, which start at $43,000 and scale up to $50,000 the final year, are part of a sponsorship agreement finalized this month that allows Anheuser-Busch and the U of I Tigerhawk logos to appear together on some merchandise and advertisements.

In 2011, the university budgeted $300,000 for anti-binge-drinking programs, $200,000 less than the year before.

U of I President Sally Mason last week declined to tell The Des Moines Register how much the university would receive and referred the question to Hawkeye Sports Properties. A company official declined to provide any financial details of the deal.

On Thursday, however, Mason told Iowa Public Radio that Anheuser-Busch would pay the university $50,000 per year.

The athletic department contracts with Hawkeye Sports Properties to handle all of its sports marketing, including sponsorships. The university and the company contend the sponsorship agreements are not public record, because Hawkeye Sports Properties is a private company owned by Missouri-based Learfield Communications.

The U of I, a public university, received $5.8 million from the company last year. The contract calls for the university to receive $114 million through 2026.

Critics say the deal with Anheuser-Busch, which replaces an expiring three-year deal, conflicts with the university’s efforts to reduce underage and binge drinking.

U of I professor Mike O’Hara, a member of the Presidential Committee on Athletics, said in an email to other members of the committee the fundamental problem with the deal is that the university is not aligning its actions with its values. He said he was dismayed the 17-member committee, created to advise the athletic department on issues like this, was not consulted.

“As an academic institution we have an obligation to set a very high standard for ourselves and be willing to forgo financial benefit when it conflicts with our core values,” O’Hara said.

Athletic department officials told the Register last week that a new addition to the agreement allows the beer corporation to place Iowa’s Tigerhawk logo on retail displays such as posters and flags, and promotional giveaways such as cups, caps and T-shirts. . . .

Stay tuned.

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Anonymous said...

Well done jibby mc'Punnington

Anonymous said...

"So we've established that UI's administrators and coaches are willing to sacrifice their students' health and welfare to raise more money"

I don't find this was established at all.

John Neff said...

The VP for bad news should have released this story on the same day as the verdict in Penn State sex abuse trial.

Anonymous said...

Would everyone who thinks this is a good deal be so agreeable if Herky ran out to the 50-yard line wearing a Bud T-shirt, Bud Light headband and waving a Busch flag? What if he handed out bottle openers to all the kids?

Unknown said... worth 2 in the Busch? IDK....They are a bunch of opportunistic vipers who prey on the young. WAIT......doesn't the Government, DHS here in MI, have a whole Department geared toward the prevention of abuse to the young and the elderly. I DO know this to be a fact!

Unknown said...

SERIOUSLY?!? the Anonymous "Authors" of this blog. Get some cajones, say your opinion, as pathetic as it anonymously is....and take "credit" for your thoughts. Obviously you are ashamed of your posts or you would gladly take credit. The position of UI is transparent. The Goals of UI and AB are transparent. And the youth of today, and hope of tomorrow are once again led to the SLAUGHTER. we look on through veiled and "anonymous" sight. I than God that Michigan State University is at least a bit more sophisticated in the marketing of their captive youth!

Unknown said...

The U of I, a public university, received $5.8 million from the company last year. The contract calls for the university to receive $114 million through 2026.