Thursday, August 30, 2012

UI Administrators 'Shocked' By School's Beer Ads

August 30, 2012, 10:38 a.m.
Who Could Have Guessed?

The University of Iowa's administrators are shocked, shocked I tell you, to discover that when they entered into a lucrative beer marketing effort with Anheuser-Busch that it would lead to beer distributors and local bars using it to increase sales. Jens Krogstad, "Bars pull banners featuring U of I logo; The posters stem from the university's sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch," Des Moines Register, August 30, 2012. And see, Jens Manuel Krogstad, "University of Iowa, Busch revisiting beer signs; Athletic director says bar banners did not receive final approval," Des Moines Register, August 31, 2012; Eric Clark, "Sally Mason expresses concern over Anheuser-Busch Tigerhawk use," The Daily Iowan, August 31, 2012; and "A Busch in the Hand is Worth . . .," June 16, 2012.

Who could have guessed that anything like this would happen?

As recently as yesterday, the UI president reassured us that the University's policies on alcohol consumption -- that is, discouraging binge drinking while simultaneously engaging in marketing efforts to increase beer sales and profits -- are "very consistent." Anna Theodosis, "UI's Mason Calls Personal Alcohol Stance 'Very Consistent," The Daily Iowan, August 28, 2012, p. A1.

How could it possibly have happened that a beer company, distributors, and bar owners would have done this -- shocking and embarrassing their marketing partners in the academy?

I've not thoroughly researched the matter, but according to the Register's story, "'The university athletics department approved the banners that were seen around Iowa City this week that included the Tiger Hawk, the Bud Light logo and the words "Enjoy Responsibly,"' said Rick Klatt, the university’s athletics department associate marketing director."

Do you suppose that could have something to do with the appearance of those banner ads, prominently displayed in local bars' front windows? It's at least a possibility.

There is one additional item worthy of attention.

A centerpiece of the beer marketing agreement was the understanding that the words "Responsibility Matters" would appear in every beer ad. Why I wonder was it changed from "Responsibility Matters" to "Enjoy Responsibly"?

Presumably, "Responsibility Matters" had been scientifically tested and found to create in students a disinclination to drink. I mean, why else would one make it a major provision in a marketing contract?

At least I assume that was the case. After all, when the University was ranked the Number Two party school in the nation, the administration derisively responded that the Princeton Review's data was not "scientific." See "'We're #2!' . . . in Campus Drunks," August 21, 2012. The administration preferred to get its data from the National College Health Assessment, which reported some improvement in Iowa's numbers. What the administrators may have overlooked was that this reliable, scientific source of data also reported that UI's students were still binge drinking at roughly double the national average.

My sources may not be reliable, but my understanding is that the data from the academy's commendable commitment to scientific research did show that when students confront the phrase "Responsibility Matters" all desire to drink alcohol vanishes. The actual sight of beer creates an upset stomach, and the sensation of vomiting, thus prompting students to return to their dorm rooms and begin studying. The added advantages, besides the elimination of hangovers, avoidance of unwanted pregnancy, feeling more rested the next day, and getting better grades, are the savings in both time and money compared with the rapid consumption of five or six beers in succession. And the benefit for bar owners is that there is much less actual vomit to clean up. It's sort of a win, win.

"Enjoy Responsibly," on the other hand, has not been scientifically tested. Therefore, its use increases the risk that this "warning" might create an association of drinking with enjoyment rather than the contractual, approved and thoroughly vetted "Responsibility Matters" phrase that is reminiscent of a parent's, or other adult's, command.

Thankfully, however, the font is still small enough that underage and binge drinking students will probably not even see it, let alone be able to read it.

How about them Hawks!!
# # #


Charlie M said...


Word on the street has it that Budweiswer/UI is coming out with a new brand called "Responsibly".

Enjoy Responsibly!

Competitive Advantage said...

Oh, this is not really good. The school must be aware about the policies regarding alcohol and even beer ads should not be tolerated. The school must put action to this.