CSPI Responds to the Beer Institute’s Creation of an Independent Third-Party Review Panel to Field Complaints About Beer Advertising
Statement of Alcohol Policies Project Director George Hacker
February 8, 2006
The Beer Institute’s new Code Compliance Review Board (CCRB) represents a modest step forward in allowing consumers and others to challenge beer ads that fail to meet even minimal industry standards. Although the Center for Science in the Public Interest welcomes this change, we note that it was accompanied by a significant weakening of the Beer Institute’s Advertising and Marketing Code. We also have concerns about how the process would work.
According to the Beer Institute’s pronouncements, complaints would still first be forwarded to the advertiser for response, and then only later to the review panel. We have concerns about the time it might take for the adjudication of complaints, and we are still in the dark about what authority the CCRB will have to enforce compliance with the Code. So far, the Beer Institute has stated that the board’s findings will be posted on the Beer Institute’s web site. That transparency doesn’t amount to much of a resolution, if the ad has already run for two months and continues to run, despite board disapproval.
The Beer Institute’s belated adoption of independent third party review occurs after numerous complaints about beer advertising that all too routinely appeals to underage drinkers, portrays illegal or dangerous activities in connection with beer drinking, or mocks alcoholism and the enabling of abusive drinking. It’s worth noting that several of Anheuser-Busch’s Super Bowl ads, though intended to be humorous, depicted risky activities in connection with drinking; hoarding, stealing and worshipping beer; violence against women; and adolescent, indecent behavior.
We look forward to testing the effectiveness of the new Code and the Code Compliance Review Board.