Debunking the myth that a group of attorneys can never agree on anything, 30 attorneys general recently sent a letter to the administrator of the federal Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, requesting that the organization investigate the aggressive marketing campaigns that surround the promotion of new energy drinks that mix caffeine and alcohol (a trend started by want-to-have-it-all professionals whose drink of choice is a Vodka and Red Bull cocktail).
The recent boom in energy-alcohol drinks, coupled with the super-sweet alcohol “soft drinks” is sparking a trend by consumers of drinking alcohol beverages designed to feel alcohol-free. If nothing else, the proliferation of drinks like Anheuser Busch’s Bud Extra, Miller Brewing Company’s Sparks, and other alco-energy drinks like Charge and Liquid Core, make clear that such drinks are speeding up the cash conveyor for large companies.
AGs nationwide are concerned that the aggressive position marketers are taking with these drinks, coupled with the “outlandish” health-claims related to the consumption of these energy-pops are misleading. Moreover, many AGs believe that the target market is underage drinkers. Slogans like “You can sleep when you’re 30” and references to “pulling an all-nighter,” appear, at least in the minds of the attorneys general, to be focusing on the under 21 crowd.
Practice Pointer: Even when a marketing campaign is legally sound, and regardless of the product, when companies engage in advertising that is directed at a younger crowd, they run the risk of having parents and watchdog groups complain if the message, however understated, suggests a behavior that is either illegal, or promotes unhealthy habits. Attorneys should advise their clients to be prepared for fallout when launching aggressive marketing campaigns.