In the Doghouse

In the Doghouse

In the Doghouse: Diageo Admits Targeting 18-24 Year Olds With Red Stripe Alcopop

November 19, 2013

Red Stripe Burst

With an honesty rarely seen among alcohol producers, Diageo’s Red Stripe brand manager stated that a new raspberry-flavored malt beverage (FMB) is a “recruitment-driven” product designated primarily for 18-24 year old females.

Red Stripe Burst, a Jamaican brand, is owned by London-based global booze behemoth Diageo (producer of Smirnoff Ice). A November 6 Gleaner article entitled “Red Stripe Creates Raspberry Beer for Young Drinkers” included a statement by Ms. Mitchell: “We hope it has crossover appeal,” suggesting the pink and red labels and raspberry beer flavor has already been tested to appeal to young women. According to the article, the decision to distribute the product line in the U.S., Canada, and the UK will be made by Red Stripe executives in those countries.

“It’s clear now that Diageo tests alcopop beverages on 18-24 year old cohorts of young women and men in other countries before marketing them in places like the United States where the drinking age is appropriately higher,” said Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director / CEO of Alcohol Justice. “Alcopops were designed as cocktails on training wheels, sweet and fruity, to lure underage youth into unhealthy drinking behaviors, especially girls. Now we have written proof that Diageo is leading the charge in a race to the bottom of the alcopop barrel to endanger youth.”

In the Doghouse: Walmart's Plan: Dominate Beer Sales, Steamroll Public Health

October 29, 2013

Transit Report Cover

Walmart is already the nation's biggest beer retailer, but corporate greed knows no bounds. The company recently announced its strategy to double beer sales by selling it as a loss-leader and accosting shoppers with in-your-face, floor-to-ceiling stacks of cases. Walmart joins mega-retailers such as Costco and Amazon, bent on using cheap alcohol to lure customers and keep the profits flowing. Drowning the masses in super-cheap alcohol comes at a huge economic, health and social cost, and the mega-retailers or alcohol producers are not paying even close to their fair share of the tab for alcohol-related injuries, diseases, and deaths.

Cheap alcohol prices encourage excessive drinking and youth consumption, and undermine pricing recommendations to prevent those very same public health problems. High alcohol prices reduce violent crime, traffic crashes, disease, and mortality. Youth are particularly sensitive to beer pricing, and Walmart's planned mountains of cheap Bud Light, the underage youth brand of choice, fly in the face of the U.S. Surgeon General's recommendation to eliminate low-price, high-volume alcohol availability to prevent underage drinking.

The economic havoc of excessive alcohol consumption is staggering. Alcohol-related harm from excessive consumption directly costs U.S. federal, state and local governments $94 billion annually, running about $0.80 per drink. Alcohol excise taxes cover about $0.15 of this cost, while taxpayers bear the remaining $0.65. Walmart, other retailers, and the rest of the industry rake in the profits, while taxpayers subsidize the costs.

Walmart's pricing strategy is an unacceptable assault on public health and safety. Raising the price of alcohol by increasing taxes is the most effective policy to mitigate the public cost of cheap alcohol. Unless policymakers increase the price of alcohol, taxpayers and their families will pay the tab while Walmart and alcohol producers reap ever-increasing profits, and the alcohol-related harm continues. 

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.