Diageo deal a historically bad first

WASHINGTON—They may have won their first game, but the Washington Redskins are off to a losing start this season, according to the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), which today criticized the team for entering into an exclusive promotional deal with Diageo, the world’s largest hard- liquor company. The deal reportedly includes signage for brands like Smirnoff Ice and Captain Morgan’s Gold in the Redskins’ FedEx Field home stadium and television advertising for those brands on Redskins’ broadcasts.

“It’s bad enough that pro sports is already so saturated with beer,” said George Hacker, director of CSPI’s Alcohol Policies Project. “But it’s really a major fumble for the Washington Redskins to make matters worse by peddling hard liquor in front of their young fans. It’s not as if kids are going to make their high school football team—let alone the pros—by hitting the bottle.”

The Diageo deal, first reported in AdAge, is the latest attempt by liquor companies to put their brand names in front of young people, according to CSPI. The industry has been able to circumvent the television networks’ ban on hard liquor advertising by running ads for malt beverages—the so-called “alcopops”—that bear the parent companies’ brand names. Smirnoff Ice, Stolichnaya Citrona, Captain Morgan’s Gold, and Skyy Blue are among those drinks, which can be advertised under the rules that apply to beer. Increasingly, liquor advertisements are seen on cable and local network affiliates.