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Kicking Bud Light Off Campus


Can't college kids think for themselves at all anymore?

Mommy-state alert!

The Federal Trade Commission is in a tizzy because Anheuser-Busch InBev's (BUD) marketing campaign for Bud Light includes cans decorated in the colors of various university sports teams.

This, the FTC fears, could encourage underage and (gulp) binge drinking on college campuses.

"This does not appear to be a responsible activity," Janet Evans, an attorney for the Federal Trade Commission, told the Wall Street Journal. "We're looking at this closely. We've talked to the company and expressed our grave concern."

Does that sound like an effort to chill (if you'll pardon the expression) commercial free speech? Of course not! It's for a good cause and therefore wrapped in goodness and light.

The Bud Light cans don't include the university's logo so it's hard to see how anyone could argue that Anheuser-Busch is suggesting the suds have been endorsed by individual schools. Some consumers will buy just about anything if it comes in school colors. Doesn't the Bud Light campaign once again demonstrate Anheuser-Busch's marketing smarts?

Are we to believe that a significant number of college kids are so impressionable that they'll guzzle gallons of Bud Light simply because the can comes in their school's colors? What does it say about a government that views its citizens as gullible numskulls incapable of making rational decisions and therefore in need of protection? How can such twits be allowed to vote?

But if the FTC is right, and if college kids across the nation will drink themselves cross-eyed simply because a can of beer in their school's colors commands it, then why stop there?

Why not argue that lingerie from Victoria's Secret, a division of Limited Brands (LTD), objectifies women and leads to rampant hanky-panky with deleterious effect on students' study of calculus? Or that advertisements for the Ford (F) Mustang suggest that driving can be fun, thereby encouraging frivolous trips to the everlasting grief of the environment?

Come to think of it, all those Jane Austen novels fill young women's heads with mush and dreams of marriage. Perhaps the FTC should express "grave concern" that Barnes & Noble (BKS) stocks such books – and sells them at a profit.

Administrators at the University of Wisconsin, University of Michigan, University of Colorado, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M, Boston College and State University of New York at Stony Brook aren't amused and have protested Anheuser-Busch InBev's marketing campaign.

Fine. But where's the federal issue in this flap?

Shouldn't the FTC concern itself with real problems such as lead paint in children's toys?

In any case, isn't part of growing up learning how to make your own decisions? Aren't we sending kids the wrong message if the all-embracing government says they lack the smarts to sort this one out?
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