In the Doghouse

In the Doghouse

Diageo's fake Irish "Alcoholiday" to sell Guinness

October 10, 2013


In 2009, Diageo, the British multinational which owns Guinness, created “Arthur’s Day," named for the brewery's founder, Arthur Guinness, to mark the 250th anniversary of the the eponymous brand. The event is supposedly a national cultural celebration of Irish music and heritage, but in reality a cynical marketing tactic to boost beer sales. Of course, the irony of a British conglomerate buying up an Irish brand and then using Irish pride to sell them the beer was not lost on us. Apparently it wasn’t lost on many Irish musicians and journalists, who began voicing their disgust at Diageo’s PR scam preceding this year’s event and calling for a boycott.

More concerning is the reported 30% increase in ambulance calls in Dublin and 2,000 hospital admissions nationwide for alcohol-related illness after the 2012 Arthur’s Day, directly resulting from mass binge drinking. Diageo encourages nationwide drinking by raising a Guinness in Arthur’s name just before 6 p.m. As concern about alarming rates of binge drinking and alcohol-related harm in Ireland escalate, Diageo capitalizes on the country's vulnerabilities to sell more beer.

Diageo’s response to the criticism is even more outrageous. They claim they are addressing complaints about the damage and chaos by stepping up promotion of “responsible” drinking on Arthur’s Day, a clever way to promote drinking while absolving themselves of responsibility for the harm caused by a national day of binge drinking that they created.


A-B InBev Offers Beerology at University of Illinois

September 17, 2013

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As if it weren't enough that the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is number 3 on the list of top party schools, apparently Anheuser-Busch InBev wants students to major in beer as well. The company is opening a new Bud Lab at the campus, where student interns will learn how to use data to promote the corporation's portfolio of leading beer brands.

This partnership of Big Alcohol and public educational institutions is not the first, but it represents a disturbing trend. Excessive drinking on college campuses is already a public health disaster. Allowing corporations such as A-B InBev, MillerCoors, or Diageo to infiltrate educational content and promote their brands as part of the institution gives them an air of legitimacy. It also sends a message to students, parents, faculty, and alumni that alcohol corporations are beneficent, and their products harmless - when in reality, excessive alcohol consumption causes 80,000 deaths and $223.5 billion in economic harm in the U.S. each year.

Accepting funding and sponsorship from Big Alcohol is also a conflict of interest for higher education. Colleges and universities that accept large gifts from alcohol companies lose the autonomy to make and enforce the most effective policies to prevent alcohol-related harm on their campuses, such as limiting access and availability of alcohol. The presence of a corporate alcohol sponsor on campus also discourages academic freedom to present educational content that sheds light on alcohol-related harm and questionable corporate practices.

The UI Urbana-Champaign should reconsider its misguided decision to let A-B InBev sponsor its curriculum. Other universities should pay attention and not sell out their autonomy, academic freedom, and student health to Big Alcohol. 

Delivering Alcohol-Related Harm to Student Doorsteps


August 27, 2013

Just in time for the new school year, online startup is marketing its product: hand-delivery of alcohol to college students on demand. The company currently targets students at the University of Central Florida (with plans to expand statewide) to shop online for a variety of beer, wine, and spirits including 24-packs of beer and large kegs.

To complete their orders, students enter their dorm room or housing location and their alcohol will be delivered shortly at all hours of the night. The delivery zone (AKA the DrinkDriving Battlefield or Blast Zone) is the UCF campus, extending outward 6 miles from the center.

According to CEO Jeffrey Nadel, if students run out of alcohol at a party, they can keep the party going without having to get behind the wheel of a car and go to the liquor store. A group just needs a single person age 21 or older to accept the order, and an entire party - fraternity, sorority, residential life, student organization, or any group -  can continue binging all through the night. As the company's tagline says: Alcohol to your doorstep.

To make matters worse, claims that because it brings the party to college students, its (student) customers are less likely to drink and drive. 

Misleading and deceptive much? Delivering alcohol to college student's doors is not supported by research showing it decreases DUI, or other alcohol-related harm for that matter. It may actually increase dangerous and/or illegal consumption and unsafe consequences.

It seems DrinkDrivers CEO Nadel may not have noticed, or paid attention to, the real public health data regarding college student drinking. Nationwide, alcohol use is a primary public health problem for college student populations. Death, unintended injuries, various types of violence and assault, sexually transmitted diseases, and academic problems are just some of the most commonly cited alcohol-related harm that college students experience. UCF is definitely not immune to those same issues. Like most colleges and universities, UCF has battled alcohol-related harm for years, and have dedicated efforts to attempt to decrease the harm alcohol causes its students.

Meanwhile, as classes begin and 60,000 UCF students flood the campus, is strongly pushing its delivery service with lots of free swag (free branded koozies, anyone?) and even contests with giveaways such as free bottles of Grey Goose.

As DrinkDrivers states in their marketing, “Yes, this is real. Yes, it really is that easy.”