On a recent trip to SeaWorld I noticed the massive amounts of subliminal and not so subliminal marketing that was clearly obvious to the large groups of kids at the park. At one point I went to the bathroom and when I was washing my hands, I looked down at the sink and saw the Anheuser Busch logo etched in the faucet (see above). The little girl that was washing her hands next to me remarked how “cute” the logo was. There was also a Hospitality Center that offered free beer to the park guests (yes, I had a few). The lounge was open to families that had small children hanging out in a “bar” area that served liquor and had a history lesson on the wonder that is beer.
That had me thinking about the ethics of such practices. What kind of responsible company makes so light of the issue of underage drinking? Clearly these children are being ifluenced by the behavior around them. Their parents getting sloshed for free in the Beer Garden, the attendant selling beer at the Shamu Rocks show, and park goers drinking beer on their walk from ride to ride.
I found a few articles that note Anheuser’s apparent desire to attract kids attention. So it must be a pattern.
Parenting Solved talks about their pitch for Spykes, an alcoholic beverage that was packaged in 2 oz. bottles and released very near prom season complete with downloadable AIM icons on their website. Overlawyered talks about a lawsuit aimed at taking flavored Anheuser Busch’s alcoholic beverages off the market because of how deirable they are to kids. Most recently Anheuser Busch agreed to stop selling an energy drink that was clearly marketed towards binge drinking youth.
It shouldn’t be the governments responsibility to ask companies to be aware of these things. They have to make conscious efforts to do whats best for their consumers and stay away influencing children to partake in harmful behavior.