In her feature on US marketing practices (MW March 22), Polly Devaney makes several erroneous statements concerning Anheuser-Busch’s advertising practices.
In late 1996 Anheuser-Busch voluntarily ceased buying advertising on MTV in the US because viewer composition on MTV had changed. We strictly adhere to the beer industry’s advertising code to ensure that our advertising is placed only within programmes whose audience is predominantly of legal drinking age.
Devaney states that the Federal Trade Commission has been investigating the marketing practices of the alcohol industry “since 1997”. In late 1999 the FTC released a report that takes an in-depth look at the industry’s self-regulation. Among its conclusions was:
“Self-regulation is a realistic, responsive and responsible approach to many of the issues raised by underage drinking. It can deal quickly and flexibly with a wide range of advertising issues and brings the accumulated experience and judgement of an industry to bear without the rigidity of government regulation. The commission regards self-regulation as particularly suitable in this area, where government restriction – especially if it involves partial or total advertising bans – raises First Amendment issues.”
Anheuser-Busch has invested over $350m (&£250m) in community programmes and advertising campaigns to promote responsible drinking and fight alcohol abuse, especially drink-driving and underage drinking.
John T Kaestner
Senior group director