Continued from Part 1 of 2 AJ’s next target is MGD beer. “Probably the most blatantly illegal advertisement came in early 2009, when a new beer called MGD 64 (boasting just 64 calories) sponsored an online fitness program…” With a claim like that it would be nice to know what makes it “illegal,” if not the imagery of “a thin, toned brunette in a party dress, smiling brightly as she showed off the beer-sponsored body that users could obtain if they joined.” With little analysis or evidence, AJ summarily concludes that the marketing is “patently false and misleading.” By contrast, in my opinion, if you are going to strip most of the calories and body away from a beer, down to a puny 64 calories, you darned well have the right to market it as only 64 calories (especially when the same amount of milk, apple juice or regular beer would have 2-3 times as many calories). The “Industry Watchdog” lays much of the blame for this sorry state of affairs at the feet of the industry’s failure to properly regulate itself: “Finally, the most important reason for the breakdown in regulatory oversight is the continuing charade of voluntary self-regulation.” AJ says the industry has “created a system of codes, largely designed to...Continue Reading Leave a Comment
Back in June, Alcohol Justice issued a report entitled “Questionable Health Claims by Alcohol Companies.” I was pretty excited to read this report, because we study such matters closely. Every few weeks I get an exuberant report of a big health claim, on another alcohol beverage product — but it almost always turns out to be a false alarm.
Also, I wanted to give AJ (formerly known as The Marin Institute) a fair chance to persuade me that a lot of companies do in fact go over “the line.” Even though I freely admit that we derive most of our revenue from alcohol beverage companies, I like to think we are fair and open-minded enough to agree with a strong and well-made point.
The report tends to say a large number of alcohol beverage companies are running roughshod over consumers, with phony health claims, and with the rules either insufficient or largely ignored. AJ suggests the rules are “constantly being violated.”
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These advertising practices are legally tenuous, morally unsound, and potentially dangerous. … Using health messages to sell products that can cause such widespread harm is not only unethical, it’s illegal, and yet the regulatory system has failed miserably to protect the American public....
Most people assume TTB would be okay with the second word but not the first. Actually, it’s the other way around. The federal government is okay with Santa, but is not fond of his elixir. TTB asserts, from time to time as the issue arises, that the term “elixir” ought not to be allowed, because it would tend to suggest that the alcohol beverage has medicinal properties. That’s a big no no. Good old Webster does not really disagree, and defines the term as: “a substance held capable of prolonging life indefinitely.” Hence there are very few “elixir” approvals after about 1999. We don’t normally show the whole paper COLA in the space above. But the paper COLAs are getting fewer and fewer, as the bulk of labels are submitted via COLAs Online. The above is starting to look like a fondly remembered antique. This 1999 approval, for Santa’s Elixir wine specialty, is one of the oldest readily available in TTB’s Public COLA Registry, because it starts showing images in about 1999. Adding to this approval’s old school quaintness, I believe I see indications of a typewriter, a Xerox machine, and perhaps there is some Wite-Out lurking in the shadows. I am writing this about a week before Christmas, but now that we’ve...Continue Reading Leave a Comment