According to The New York Times, Americans under the age of 17 dug the Super Bowl spots from Bud Light. In fact, Bud Light ads ranked first, second and fourth in popularity for the under 17 demographic.
Bud Light’s brand team should feel good that they’re connecting with this crucial segment of emerging beer drinkers. There’s only one problem–beer ads are not supposed to appeal to underage drinkers.
Amon Rappaport, a spokesman for the Marin Institute, an industry watchdog based in California, objected to an Anheuser-Busch Super Bowl ad in which a young Clydesdale pulls its first wooden beer cart. “Using a baby Clydesdale to sell beer to kids is just like using Joe Camel to sell cigarettes,” Mr. Rappaport said.
A 1996 study by the Center on Alcohol Advertising in Berkeley, Calif., found that Budweiser’s talking frogs were even more familiar to children aged 9 to 11 than Tony the Tiger, Smokey Bear and the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Mr. Rappaport would like beer ads to go the way of cigarette commercials. “As a society we recognize that tobacco advertising has no place on TV where kids will see it, but somehow we still allow beer ads,” he said. “Without beer advertising on TV, underage drinking would drop significantly.”
Given that brewers self-regulate, they naturally find it hard to steer clear of such sophmoric humor.