Trouble brewing for Dice: Pitchman’s beer ad catches flak
The sum of it is this: Daisuke "Dice" Matsuzaka will be pitching for the Red Sox this coming season (er...I assume. It's baseball, folks: I'm just barely up to speed on football, and that's only lately). But he's got an existing endorsement contract with Asahi beer in Japan. Okay, he can't do beer endorsements here -- because that gets the MLB-volks' panties in a serious twist -- but this is in Japan, for Japanese TV, where athletes endorsing booze is no big deal, happens all the time. So he makes an ad that features him tossing a few in his new uniform, and then tossing back a big frosty glass of Asahi Super Dry -- in his street clothes.
And people are freaking out. Here's from the Boston Herald story:
"...John Blake, director of media relations, said ... the Red Sox have expressed their concern about the commercial...
“I called them, talked to their marketing people and explained the situation, and I believe they understand the situation and will probably be more careful in the future,” Blake said, adding that the Sox were not aware of the ad before word of it reached computer screens stateside.
The idea of fans, especially young ones, seeing a Red Sox player drinking alcohol is not one the team is particularly keen on.
“It is a perception,” Blake said, “and we certainly want our players to be perceived in the right light.
"The right light." Why, after decades of baseball fueled by the money from beer ads, after openly admitting Babe Ruth -- one of the game's true icons -- fueled his playing on hot dogs and beer, and after numerous examples of baseball players who did illegal drugs, why does anyone care? Could we please grow up? Kids are exposed to all kinds of inconvenient truths about their supposed "role models" -- Britney, Lindsey, and a parade of steroid-shooting pill-popping athletes -- and they're worried about this guy drinking one beer in an ad in a foreign country?
Come on. And now the ATTTB sez that "Matsuzaka's ad may merit punitive action. ["Punitive action." Can you believe this phrasing?!] “Our jurisdiction runs to false and misleading ads,” said [ATTTB spokesman John] Resnick, who pointed to a 1995 ruling that says the bureau would consider unacceptable any ad “which depicts any individual (famous athlete or otherwise) consuming or about to consume an alcoholic beverage prior to or during an athletic activity or event,” or an ad that states that drinking alcohol “will enhance athletic prowess, performance at athletic activities or events, health or conditioning.”
Look, go watch the ad. I don't speak Japanese either, but I don't see any indication that drinking the beer is supposed to enhance his athletic performance. It's enhancing his relaxation after the athletic performance, maybe.
But that's not even the point! The point is that the man's an adult, in a foreign country, and he's doing something that's completely legal. Why on earth is drinking a beer illegal in American TV ads in the first place? Are we such weenies?
Like I always say about booze laws: I just want to be treated like an adult. You want to "Save the children!!!"? Donate money to an orphanage, become a Big Brother/Sister, or take a little better care of your own darned kids. But if you really think that seeing a baseball player drink a beer on YouTube is going to have any effect whatsoever on a kid's decisions about whether to drink, play baseball, embark on a life of crime, join the priesthood, or take a gun to school and shoot jock bullies...you need to get professional help.
This is a non-issue. Adults drink. Showing that to kids is better than pretending it doesn't happen.