Drinking, driving, and advertising are not supposed to mix.
(Page 2 of 3)
The move is hardly radical. After all, liquor producers already sponsor teams in the Indy Racing League and the International Race of Champions. Moreover, NASCAR allows spirits advertising at racetracks, as well as team sponsorship by malt beverages (Diageo advertises Smirnoff ICE in this way).
Finally, NASCAR has accepted beer advertising for a quarter century. Budweiser sponsors Dale Earnhardt, Jr., while Busch is involved in a secondary racing series.
The series has been attempting to upgrade its image and expand its reach — it shifted its championship from R.J. Reynolds to Nextel and signed a $2.8 billion television contract with Fox and NBC starting in 2001. But NASCAR always has had a populist edge compared to other major sports, which still ban sponsorship of teams by spirits producers. The series actually grew out of the practice of moonshiners outrunning “revenuers” during Prohibition from 1919 to 1933. Drivers eventually turned their souped up cars to stock car races.
That was then, however, and this is now. Today’s self-anointed defenders of public virtue think the races should serve as a civic role model.
For instance, the American Medical Association “is extremely troubled” by NASCAR’s announcement, says AMA president-elect J. Edward Hill: The series “should use its new-found marketing and cultural influence to be a positive role model, not to endanger the lives and health of youth through the glamorization of liquor.” The organization cited a poll indicating that 69 percent of people thought sports teams and leagues should reduce alcohol advertising.
The paternalists at the so-called Center for Science in the Public Interest — a group worried that someone somewhere might actually enjoy eating or drinking — joined the anti-alcohol parade. George Hacker, director of The Center’s Alcohol Policies Project, warned: “You’ll have liquor billboards rolling around the track hundreds of times, constantly in view of the cameras.” Even the sports comic strip Tank McNamara blasted the NASCAR decision.
Yet these complaints could be made against all alcohol ads, especially beer ads that seemingly tie consumption to virility and youth. Auto advertising also does much the same thing. As do spots for clothes (including ones where models don’t wear anything, including the clothes supposedly being advertised).
If people don’t like alcohol ads, they can ignore them. Indeed, if people didn’t respond to them companies wouldn’t waste money on them.
Of course, critics point to kids: “Our children need less exposure to alcohol, not more,” complained Dr. Hill. Similarly, said Hacker, the NASCAR deal provides “non-stop rolling, roaring billboards that will be seen by millions of young and impressionable people — including underage persons.” AP sports columnist Steve Wilstein charged: “there are plenty of NASCAR fans under 21 watching those alcohol ads going around the track and making the obvious connection with life in the fast lane.”
NASCAR obviously isn’t for everyone, and those who follow it aren’t kids. The average NASCAR fan is 38-years-old.
According to NASCAR 95 percent of race attendees are over 21; 88 percent of those who watch races on TV are over 21.
EVEN MORE BIZARRELY, CRITICS link NASCAR ads to drunk driving. The AMA charged that “NASCAR’s unwise decision only makes matters worse. NASCAR is only helping liquor companies enhance their image — fast, risky driving in a cool car goes hand in hand with their product.”
Hacker echoed the claim: “rather than disassociating drinking and driving, it reinforces the relationship between liquor and cars.” Wilstein went even further, noting that “More than 17,000 people die and a half-million are injured every year because of drunken driving.”
What does this have to do with NASCAR? Argues Wilstein, there “is the real wreckage caused by drunken drivers in the 18- to-34 male demographic that NASCAR so assiduously and successfully cultivates.”
Spirits producers, like beer makers, are advertising a product, not a practice: none of them want or gain from drunk driving. Nor is the new deal anything goes.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online