Marin Institute released a new study last week that raises concerns about the way alcoholic beverages are marketed as sexy and healthy. Marin, the alcohol industry watchdog, analyzes how the products are pushed in much the way organic or natural foods are being plugged, in â€œQuestionable Health Claims by Alcohol Companies: From Protein Vodka to Weight-Loss Beer,â€ by Michele Simon and Janna Brancolini, with research assistance from Ryan Treffers.
In the report, the authors conclude that many of the alcohol marketing messages are â€œlegally tenuous, morally unsound, and potentially dangerous.â€
â€œThe wine industry has been exaggerating wineâ€™s health benefits for years. Now Big Alcohol is taking such messages to a whole new level,â€ said Marin Instituteâ€™s Research and Policy Director Simon. â€œMajor alcohol companies are exploiting ineffective or non-existent regulatory oversight with deceptive marketing and potentially dangerous products.â€
Devotion Vodka (â€œInfused with Caseinâ€), Fragoli strawberry liqueur (promoted with antioxidants), Absolut, Skyy, and Finlandia vodkas (â€œinfused with natural flavorsâ€), Michelob Ultra, and MGD 64 beer (promoted as fitness and weight-loss aids) are highlighted in the report.
Ad campaigns for these products used terms like â€œvitamin B enhanced,â€ â€œantioxidant nutrientsâ€ and â€œall-natural,â€ combined with images of fruit or young athletes running or cycling, making these products appear to be logical compliments to a healthy, fitness-oriented lifestyle, without a hint of irony, the report notes.
â€œAlcohol is not a health and wellness product,â€ added Simon. â€œEven moderate consumption is responsible for a wide range of health problems, including heart disease and various cancers, not to mention an epidemic of underage drinking.
Alcohol is not a health tonic; it can cause life-long suffering and destroy families. Where are those messages?â€
From the report: â€œSpirits companies are positioning their vodka as â€˜all natural,â€™ even though the products havenâ€™t changed. Beer companies are sponsoring marathons and running ads showing toned drinkers meeting up at a bar after a work-out. Superstars of grueling, high-endurance sports are being tapped to promote alcoholic beveragesâ€ (Lance Armstrong hoisting a beer bottle).
A finger is pointed at â€œa significant failure in the regulatory oversight of alcohol advertising,â€ on both the federal and state alcoholic beverage control levels.