I'm sure there's somebody over at Anheuser-Busch corporate headquarters right now giggling and clapping, proclaiming what a PR coup their college fan can promotion has generated. But as far as I can tell, this one had Bad Idea Jeans written all over it from the beginning.
The campaign involves color-coordinated cans of Bud Light that match the colors of the local college football team in 25 markets. So LSU fans could pick up a cold purple & yellow can of Bud Light while Michigan fans could sip from a blue & yellow one. As you can imagine, college-targeted beer isn't high on many university's lists of things that gets them excited and many universities have complained. Michigan even threatened to sue.
Anheuser-Busch responds that the campaign is aimed only at fans who can drink legally and that it has long supported efforts to fight alcohol abuse. It notes that the cans don't bear any school's name or logo. And it says it will drop the campaign near any college that makes a formal complaint.
Ah, the old "we support the fight against the epidemic caused by our product so it's fine if we want to make it easier for people to abuse our product" excuse. A favorite of mine. And of course technically they're not targeted underage college students...but I think we're all adults here (except for the underage college students). They are targeting underage college students.
To be fair, colleges and the NCAA aren't exactly saints in the grand scheme of things. You can't possibly keep track of all the beer commercials that play during college sports telecasts and they're certainly not going to stop selling beer at the Dome anytime soon.
Syracuse was apparently one of the universities that voices it's concerns to Anhueser-Busch. Concerns that are being honored.
Dave Mavoli, general sales manager of T.J. Sheehan Distributing] said 196 cases of orange and white cans were delivered to Syracuse stores, mostly in the university area. However, he said he received an email from the brewer Friday afternoon that the promotion was over.
Orange and WHITE? Jesus, Anheuser, if you're gonna try and get Syracuse students to binge drink more than they already do by drawing their gaze to your product through not-so-subliminal advertising, at least get the colors right.
Oh and speaking of Bad Idea Jeans...