• Smirnoff "Fluffed and Whipped": Pornahol Revisited


    SmirnoffFluffedWhippedWe’ve seen an escalating number of “pornahol” alcohol ads in the last few years – companies using sexual innuendo and objectification to sell alcoholic beverages.The campaign for Diageo's latest Smirnoff flavored vodkas may have set the bar at a new low: Fluffed Marshmallow and Whipped Cream ("Fluffed" and "Whipped" for short.) Obvious much?

    Smirnoff’s new commercials are a smorgasbord of sexual images and allusions, with a little product thrown in for good measure. They feature the scantily clad model/DJ Amber Rose purring “I might choose fluffed. Then again, I might choose whipped. Either way, vodka never felt this good” over images of gyrating bodies and multiple close-ups of sticky wet lips. The ads will run on youth- and minority-friendly channels including BET, TBS, and VH1.
    Big Alcohol’s Big Alcohol's "It Boy" photographer, David LaChapelle, shot the campaign's print ads. The print versions also feature a heavily made-up Amber Rose, alternatively “choosing” Smirnoff Fluffed or Smirnoff Whipped in seductive, themed outfits. The ads will run in magazines popular with youth, such as OK, Star, People Style Watch, and Rolling Stone. The campaign will also be featured on bus wraps and outdoor ads in metropolitan areas. The budget for the campaign is estimated by the New York Times to be between $8 and $11 million. 

    The shameless employment of sexual objectification – and the not-so-subtle implications that drinking will lead to the fulfillment of sexual fantasies and desires – is nothing new in alcohol advertising. The industry is aware of it, such that the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) suggests that ads should not contain sexually lewd language or rely upon sexual success as a selling point.  However, as the NYT pointed out, “[t]he vodkas that go the eyebrow-raising route are usually brands with lower sales volumes and smaller ad budgets, which hope the double entendres will generate buzz among drinkers.” Smirnoff, on the other hand, is a well-known, bestselling alcohol brand, and already a favorite among youth.
    Given Smirnoff's current popularity among youth, along with the role that alcohol frequently plays in sexual assault and other types of physical and mental harm, this campaign is no joke. It is, however, just one more example of what happens when the alcohol industry is allowed to prop up its own codes, with no external monitor or penalties for code violations, as the gold standard for regulating alcohol advertising. 
  • Free the Bowl Video Contest Takes on Alcohol-Related Violence at Sports Events

    FOR RELEASE 11/21/11 6.A.M. (ET)           
                  Contact:  Michael Scippa 415 548-0492
                                                                                                                             Jorge Castillo  213 840-3336

    Free The Bowl Video Contest Takes on
    Alcohol-Related Violence at Sports Events

    $1,000 Prize for Youth-Produced Counter-Beer-Ads

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA (November 21, 2011) – Alcohol Justice launches today its fourth annual, national, anti-beer-advertising contest at“This year’s video competition challenges youth to expose the relationship of beer advertising and consumption to violence before, during and after sporting events,”stated Michael Scippa, Director of Public Affairs at Alcohol Justice, the industry watchdog formerly known as Marin Institute. The video contest culminates three days before Anheuser-Busch InBev displays their latest offensive beer ads during Super Bowl Bowl XLVI.
    There have been a number of highly publicized incidents of alcohol-related violence at professional sporting venues this year, such as the tragic beating of San Francisco Giants fan Bryan Stowe at Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium. Research has shown that sports related alcohol advertising, sponsorship, branding, promotions, and sales practices all fuel over-consumption that leads directly to tens of thousands of annual incidents of alcohol-related violence and harm.
    “After every Bud Light-sponsored-NFL game, an estimated 5,000 people leave the stadiums legally drunk,”said Scippa. “The toxic social norm that binds alcohol to sports must be broken. Free the Bowlâ allows kids to best illustrate thatyou don’t need to drink alcohol to enjoy the game, despite what the beer ads tell you.”
    Big Alcohol spends a half billion dollars a year advertising on TV sports events alone. The more alcohol ads kids see, the more likely they are to drink, drink to excess and drink more often. In 2009, the Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinkingreported that 5,000 people under the age of 21 die annually from injuries caused by alcohol. Hundreds of thousands more suffer alcohol-fueled sexual assaults, serious injuries, diseases and academic failure.
    “We created theFree The Bowlâ video contest four years ago to give young people ages 10 to 20 a channel to digitally protest exploitative alcohol ads shown during TV sporting events,added Scippa. “This year’s contest seeks original, 30 second to 3 minute art or music performance counter ads with a core message about alcohol, sports and violence.”
    The deadline for video entries is January 16, 2012. Contest winners will be announced during the Free The Bowlâ 2012 World Premiere,streaming live on February 2, 2012, from the Smith Rafael Film Center in San Rafael, California. To view past years’ exciting winning videos, this year’s promotional videos, and more information on contest rules, entry details and prizes, visit

  • Video

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  • Study Suggests Alcohol Ads in Boston Subway Targeted by Race and Socioeconomic Status


    svedka homepageA new study published in the October American Journal of Public Health revealed that alcohol advertising in MBTA subway stations exposed the equivalent of every adult in the greater Boston area to an average of 1.09 ads each day. The equivalent of every 5th to 12th grade public school student was exposed to an average of 1.34 ads each day. Moreover, stations in high-poverty neighborhoods generated 4.5 times the number of impressions per day than those in low-poverty neighborhoods, suggesting specific demographic targeting by alcohol companies. In light of the health risks associated with drinking among youth and low-income populations, as well as the established link between alcohol advertising and alcohol consumption among both youth and adults, Massachusetts, along with the other states and cities allowing alcohol ads on public transit, should eliminate alcohol ads on its public transit system.

  • In an Absolut World, Injustice + Risk = $4 Million in Ads

    ABSOLUT OUTrageousIn a stunning twist on the term "inclusive," Absolut Vodka recently launched an ad campaign to pat itself on the back for marketing its brand to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people. According to the New York Times, Absolut plans to spend an estimated $4 million on a yearlong ad campaign called “Absolut Outrageous.” The campaign celebrates the way Absolut has deliberately targeted the LGBT community with advertising and promotions for 30 years. The ads have already begun appearing online, outdoors, on social media sites like Facebook, and of course, in specific media directed to the LGBT audience. The end goal? What else, but increased sales. 
    The last time we checked, raising profits by pushing a substance responsible for so much harm on a population that already experiences high rates of that harm doesn't qualify as cause for celebration - even $4 million's worth of celebration. Evidently, in Absolut's world, it does.
    The LGBT community has grappled with the issues of alcohol use, related harm, and marketing and advertising for many years, even before Absolut started targeting it. The most recent version of the nation's prevention and health promotion framework, Healthy People 2020, acknowledges that LGBT people are at increased risk for negative health outcomes such as alcohol-related harm. In addition, risks for alcohol-related problems are likely associated with belonging to a stigmatized and marginalized community. 
    In other words, LGBT populations experience a double-whammy of injustice and higher risk of serious harm from alcohol. 
    What part of that data says:  "Please use positive images of LGBT identity to sell more harmful product to the community? While you're at it, please congratulate yourself endlessly in the process!"
    To put it bluntly, Big Alcohol isn't discriminating about who buys its long as they buy more of it.
    Discrimination, stigma, and unfair treatment pose serious threats to the health of LGBT people. The alcohol industry is putting that information to work in the name of selling more Absolut, and exploiting health disparities as it sees fit.
    Specifically targeting an already-disadvantaged group to purchase products that are harmful to the community's health and safety should be illegal, not celebrated. And for that gross misrepresentation of reality, Absolut belongs in the doghouse.
  • CDC Releases New Cost Study: Excessive Alcohol Use Cost the US $223.5 Billion in 2006


    The economic costs of excessive alcohol consumption in the United States exceeded $223 billion dollars in 2006 - the equivalent of  $746 for every man, woman, and child in the U.S - according to a new study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Taxpayers pay the largest chunk of these costs, with an estimated $94.2 billion tab billed to government. Read more... 

    Click here for the article abstract, and here for the CDC's press release. 


  • Presentations Without Files


    Presentation: There Is No Free Speech Right to Market to Kids - Corporate Myths and Policy Solutions
    April 8-10, 2010: Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood 7th Annual Consuming Kids Summit, Wheelock College, Boston
    Presented by: Michele Simon

    Presentation: The Teen World: The Straight Dope (panelist), discussing Facebook alcohol promotion
    November 17, 2009: National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University
    CASACONFERENCES: How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope, New York
    Presented by: Sarah Mart 

    Presentation: Nutri-washing food and beverages, from Big Food to Big Alcohol: How the alcohol industry spins its products as healthy and nutritious
    November 9, 2010: American Public Health Association Annual Conference, Denver, Colorado
    Presented by: Michele Simon

    AEDs and Alcopops

    Presentation: Alcohol-free zones
    July 29, 2011: California Drug-Free Communities Conference
    Presented by: Bruce Livingston

    Charge for Harm

    Presentation: Building a Charge for Harm Alliance: Campaigning to Hold Big Alcohol Responsible
    December 5th, 2010: Alcohol Policy 15, Washington, DC
    Presented by: Bruce Livingston and Sarah Mart 
    Presentation: Charge for Harm, Holding the Alcohol Industry Accountable for Alcohol-Related Harm
    September 29, 2010: Kaiser Addiction Doctors Conference, Los Angeles, California
    Presented by: Bruce Livingston
    Keynote Presentation: Holding Big Alcohol Accountable: Building a Charge for Harm Movement.
    November 5, 2010: Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse Prevention Convention, Bangor, Maine
    Presented by: Michael Scippa


    Presentation: Implications of Beer Industry Globalization
    October 18-20, 2009: Second Annual Center for Alcohol Policy Alcohol Law Symposium, Chicago
    Presented by: Michele Simon

    Public Health

    Presentation: Mapping Out A Solution: From GIS to Policy Change on Alcohol
    August 18-20, 2010: Enforcing Underage Drinking Law (EUDL) Leadership Conference, Anaheim, California
    Presented by: Sarah Mart

    Presentation: Regulating Alcoholic Beverages and the Role of Public Health 
    November 1-4, 2009: National Conference of State Liquor Administrators, Fort Worth, TX
    Presented by: Charisse Ma Lebron


    Presentation: Lessons Learned from Alcohol Legislation  
    November 12-14, 2009: International Drug Policy Reform Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico
    Presented by: Bruce Livingston

    Presentation: Control State Politics: How Big Alcohol is Dismantling Regulation State by State
    December 7th, 2010: Alcohol Policy 15, Washington, DC
    Presented by: Michele Simon