Drinking, driving, and advertising are not supposed to mix.
(Page 3 of 3)
The agreement specifies that 20 percent of race-themed ads must contain “responsible drinking” messages. NASCAR President Mike Helton said, “Any spirits company involved in NASCAR will have marketing campaigns strongly grounded in responsibility and will follow advertising and marketing guidelines set by NASCAR that are consistent with the Distilled Spirits Council’s advertising code.”
Moreover, the decision doesn’t require teams to accept alcohol advertising. For instance, driver Morgan Shepherd, a reformed alcoholic, said that he doesn’t “look down on those who do have those type sponsorships,” but views alcohol ads as conflicting with his attempt to promote Christianity.
Indeed, NASCAR’s willingness to accept alcohol ads has received some surprising support. John Moulden, president of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, observed “They appear to be trying to do it right.” He added: “We’d like to see that same type of responsibility by all sports and advertisers.” Although the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has taken no public position on the issue, some officials privately echo Moulden’s view.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving seems less enthused, but even MADD President Wendy Hamilton acknowledges that “alcohol is alcohol, and beer and distilled spirits should not be treated differently when it comes to advertising practices.” Someone determined to act irresponsibly is as likely to do so with beer as liquor. If there’s an issue to be debated, it is advertising for alcohol, not advertising for spirits.
SHOULD ALCOHOL ADS BE banned? They are meant to sell product, of course. But drinking alcohol is not the same as drinking irresponsibly. If critics think advertising leads to the latter they should produce some evidence.
In fact, most alcohol consumed around the world isn’t advertised. Studies of changes in advertising in America and overseas have found no measurable impact on total consumption. When kids explain why they drink, they cite their parents and peers, not ads.
More than a decade ago the FTC admitted that there was “no reliable basis to conclude that alcohol advertising significantly affects consumption, let alone abuse” and that “absent such evidence, there is no basis for concluding that rules banning or otherwise limiting alcohol advertising would offer significant protection to the public.” Advertising mostly affects brand preference, encouraging those already inclined to drink to drink a particular brand.
The industry also regulates itself. Companies want to make money to be sure, but encouraging their best customers to die in car wrecks would be bad for business. Indeed, the Beer Institute, Distilled Spirits Council of the United States, and Wine Institute all have voluntary advertising codes covering ad content and placement.
The FTC reports: “for the most part, members of the industry comply with the current standards.” Adds the Commission, “many individual companies follow their own internal standards that exceed code requirements.”
Does the world still suffer from alcoholics and drunk drivers and other alcohol abusers? Sure.
Almost any good thing in life can be abused. So it is with alcohol.
But the answer is to punish those who act irresponsibly, not the product. We must not allow well-intended busybodies to treat the rest of us like children. A free society requires no less.
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?