By Emily Guzman
First it was the alcoholic energy drink Four Loko by Drink Four Brewing Company and now it is Pabst Brewing Company’s newest fruit-flavored “alcopop.” Blast by Colt 45 has 17 state attorneys general joining forces against the dangers of binge drinking. AGs are calling Blast a “youth-targeted, supersized, binge-in-a-can.”
Blast, sold in single 23.5-ounce cans with 12 percent alcohol concentration, meets the national standard for binge drinking. In a letter to Pabst Charmain and Chief Executive Officer Charles Dean Metropoulos written on April 21, AGs urged the Company to significantly reduce the number of servings of alcohol presented in a single-serving container to avoid serious health risks. They also want Pabst to stop targeting an underage audience.
The problem with Blast is in the marketing. The Company promotes the product as though it is meant to be consumed in a single serving, so consumers are unaware that the can actually contains 4.7 servings. It also says Blast should be consumed while cold, prompting people to drink the whole can before it warms up.
Pabst claims the target market age is 21-29, but its brightly colored cans and assorted flavors attract underage drinkers.
And the Company is not exactly avoiding high-visibility advertising. They signed well-known rapper Snoop Dogg as the drink’s spokesman. He has been posing for ads, appearing in promotional videos and doing informal interviews, all of which are easily accessible on youth-friendly social media websites like Facebook and Twitter. It is not hard for a teenage Snoop fan to stumble upon an image of the pigtailed D-O-Double-G drinking the fruit-flavored “alcopop” with his low-rider as the backdrop.
Pabst needs to be more conscious of who pays the most attention to their beverages. As college students, we at K are the target audience. We are the ones at risk. Every weekend we see first-hand the consequences of binge drinking, which accounts for more than half of the alcohol related deaths in the U.S. (according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), not the manufacturers. It may be our responsibility to control our alcohol consumption, but at some point somebody has to say enough already.
In a recent New York Times article, Colt 45 co-owner Evan Metropoulos said that he will try hard to hammer home the message of responsible drinking. Yet, how anybody can drink Blast responsibly given its marketing strategies is a mystery. The Company plans to combat the binge drinking epidemic without lowering the drink’s alcohol concentration. For now, they are encouraging consumers to dilute the beverage.
If Pabst wants to alleviate the very issue that is taking the lives of so many Americans today, it needs to think twice about who it chooses to promote its beverages and how packaging affects product distribution. And it needs to realize that telling consumers to dilute the beverage while they decide if they want to take action or not is just not good enough.