The Full Bar - all my pages

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

More MADDness: Virgin Mothers?

From Wine & Spirits Daily (yes, the Beer Business Daily folks do other drinks, but this sub is free, for now):

In some rather surprising news, Mothers' Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is entering the drinks business but not in the way you may think. In conjunction with Hill Street Marketing, the anti-alcohol group is launching MADD Virgin Drinks that include three "cocktails" without alcohol (Mojito, Margarita and Pina Colada), along with a virgin Lager & Lime and virgin red and white wine. They said in a statement that "distribution is not yet confirmed," and Hill Street is currently in talks with "traditional retailers" to carry their product. Hmmm. Do you think it will catch on?
Could I just quote you a quote, from a story on the alcohol-energy drink 'controversy' that ran about a year ago in the Attleboro, Mass. Sun Chronicle? These same folks are warning that teens (and retail clerks) might mistake boozed-up energy drinks for plain old energy drinks.

Of particular concern to industry watchdogs are similarities in the appearances of alcoholic and non-alcoholic energy drinks. "They clearly shouldn't be in the same section," said David DeIuliis spokesman for the Massachusetts chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)."Not only product placement, but also packaging is a concern," said Wallace, the SADD executive who noted that product coloring, logos and design appear to be aimed at teens.
Now, take a look at the packages they're putting these so-called 'virgin' drinks in (Thanks for the pix, Jaysus; why the hell is it in Finnish?). They clearly shouldn't be in the same section as real good booze; this deceptive packaging is a concern. Someone could easily pick up this stuff by mistake, thinking it's the real thing, only to find once they've gotten home that there's no booze in the booze. Think of how pissed people will be to find they'd been duped.

What's that? That couldn't happen? No one's that stupid?

Bingo. Now could someone tell MADD that?


sam k said...

Man, I was thinking along your exact train of thought before I got out of the first paragraph. Seems that what's good for the goose is not necessarily good for the gander, eh?

Plus, they went waaaaaay out of their way to make theirs look like the real thing.

They'll be gone in six months.

Lew Bryson said...

Gone in six months? No way. They'll just start a lobbying campaign and get a law passed to make us buy the things.

Steven said...

Man -- the river of hypocrisy is running miles deep in this latest boondoggle.

Aside from the packaging being so likker-like, aren't they actually promoting the legitimacy of beer and alcohol with this campaign?

Methinks maybe the foundation is showing some signs of cracks here.

JessKidden said...

I don't think the TTB would allow that "Virgin Lager" label in the US (the photos, as I understand it, are of Canadian products).

"§ 7.24 (d) Products containing less than one-half of 1 percent (.5%) of alcohol by volume shall bear the class designation "malt beverage," or "cereal beverage," or "near beer." ... No product containing less than one-half of 1 percent of alcohol by volume shall bear the class designations "beer", "lager beer", "lager", "ale", "porter", or "stout", or any other class or type designation commonly applied to malt beverages containing one-half of 1 percent or more of alcohol by volume."

(I'd link to the TTB's labeling rules, but can never remember how to do the HTML tag thing...)

So, one of the damn-gubmint's "stupid alcohol laws" might actually screw MADD this time...

Lew Bryson said...

Ha! I was thinking that, JK, but had to post and run and didn't get a chance to check it. Thanks.

Chibe said...

I won't bother to rehash the galling hypocrisy of this, as Lew pretty much nailed it. But looking beyond that, I have to ask what the point of this whole effort is? I mean, there are already non-alcoholic beverages on the market if their goal is to provide an alternative for designated drivers. And if their goal is simply to make money, shouldn't they try selling something people actually want? Talk about an organization that's lost its way...

Bill said...

Huh. Apparently, I'd be that stupid. If these were in the booze section, I'd assume there was booze in them; and if they weren't, I'd assume they should be. I think I got lost in your cleverness.

But definitely, it seems to be hypocritical to offer a booze-like product and use booze-like marketing and packaging to support their core mission.

Lew Bryson said...

Really, Bill? The big MADD wouldn't tip you off?

Bill said...

The picture on your post doesn't clearly say MADD, it just shows wine and beer bottles. But, no, I don't see "MADD" and automatically think "Mothers Against Drunk Driving." When the group is mentioned out loud, the full name is given, because otherwise, saying "mad" or "sad" gets confusing. If I saw "MADD" on a bottle of wine, there's no way I'd assume it was actually MADD, because why would they be selling wine? It's completely out of any context I'd expect to think about the group. It would be like seeing PETA on a box of fish sticks or chicken wings -- there's no way I'd guess it would actually stand for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

Lew Bryson said...

Ah, it's the picture. "MADD" is as big or bigger than the other print on the label. I guess when I see 'MADD' I trip to Mothers Against etc. right away.

I kind of like the idea of PETA chicken fingers, though. Triumph brewpub has a mushroom bacon burger on their menu that's a veggie burger made of mushrooms with a big chunk of bacon on top. It messes with you. (And tastes really good.)

Anonymous said...

this is so stupid are you sure this story isnt from the onion . if i dont wanna drink alcohal i drink lemonade or water not some sloppy virgin drink . always made me wonder why no alcohal beers cost more then pabst etc

Lew Bryson said...

No, it's for real:

Steven said...

"I guess when I see 'MADD' I trip to Mothers Against etc. right away."

No doubt, same here. Maybe Bill has figured out a good way to tune out all the hype from the TV, newspapers, and billboards. Hopefully he'll share!

Lew Bryson said...

God, that would be grand. I'd love that.

Bill said...

Steve and Lew,

Pretty much the only time I ever think about MADD is when I see an entry here. I rarely read articles on drunk driving. I don't watch commercial tv save for sports and news, and MADD doesn't run ads then. Billboards? You remember billboards?

What I do know is that the number of choices I have in what to drink keeps increasing. And finding a place to drink or to purchase alcohol keeps getting easier. If there's a viable "new dry" movement, I have to conclude it's not affecting things for me.

But to come to this blog, you sound like you're the last defense against legislators turning the country dry thanks to the efforts of these folks, and you cite all these stories and statistics making the "new drys" sound fanatic and crazed, and you know what? That's the way YOU come across. Because you're mocking these folks that haven't been able to affect your ability to drink one iota. You're devoting all this anger and exasperation to folks who have helped make the roads safer, but haven't been able to make alcohol more difficult to buy in the last twenty years. They might want to do that, but they can't.

Lew, every so often you talk about finding common ground with the new dries, but you continually undercut that with your other posts. If they just inspire rage and mockery in you, wouldn't ignoring them be easier? You've won. You can drink. It keeps getting easier for you to drink. So long as liquor is taxed, legislators won't take liquor away. Oh. Wait. Is that where you're coming from?

You once made the compassionate point that most of these folks have been hurt through alcohol somehow. You will get farther if you treat them as worthy of respect. They don't treat you that way? So what? That's no excuse. Hard to convince folks that alcohol can be good and convivial when you don't act that way. Be the person you want your kids to be. Treat others the way you'd like to be treated.

Chibe said...


Just because the new dry movement isn't affecting things for you doesn't mean it's not affecting others. My best friend lives in a town where she can't purchase packaged beer. I spent six years living in states where you couldn't buy alcohol on Sundays. If I go up to Wisconsin for the weekend, I better get up there before 9pm or I can't stop by the good beer store on the way up because liquor stores must close by 9. Some states still don't allow the sale of beer above certain alcohol levels (like strong Belgians? too bad). Other effects are less obvious, like how MADD's lobbying efforts (sponsored heavily by the insurance industry) lead to higher auto insurance premiums. And infringing on the rights of others doesn't stop at alcohol. Just yesterday the FDA announced it will ban clove cigarettes and other flavored cigarettes. Do I smoke? No, but that doesn't mean I'll look the other way while the government tells grown adults what they can and can't enjoy. Sorry to get on my soapbox, but I don't understand why you think we should ignore a hypocritical organization (one where its own founder quit because it had gotten to extreme) that is constantly trying to tell others how they can and can't behave simply because they have yet to succeed in telling you specifically how you can and can't behave.

Bill G. said...

The negative part of changing the Non-Intoxicating Beer Act in WV from 6-12% was the realistic possibility of seeing the flood of high-gravity malt liquors and alcopops hitting the state (and the fear that these would lead to increased drunkenness that would lead to 2nd thoughts about allowing higher ABV craft beers).

Fortunately, I haven't seen much of the high-gravity malt liquors, but the new "caffeinated" malt beverages that MADD is mentioning have starting flowing in.

I'll admit that the cans do look like these "extreme energy drinks"...but c'mon, the 9-12% ABV is pretty clearly emblazoned on the can so as not to be missed! (Deliberately so, I'd imagine...wouldn't want anyone to miss the idea that Joose or MAX is more alcohol for less money!) Even if someone DID mistake this (and yes, they are the same price as the same size can of Red Bull), I'm pretty sure that the SKU is set as an alcohol product! is one example of these "fine, upstanding" products. Funny how the "drink Joose responsibly" mixes with the "Are you Joosed yet?"

I can't support banning them as that would be somewhat hypocritical, nor could I support MADD in any way shape or form....I just wish they'd go away.

Likewise, I hope I never see these hideous synthehol products on my local grocer's shelf, though I have a feeling that somehow MADD will guilt the LCB and private retailers into carrying them.

Lew Bryson said...

I'm pretty much in-tune with Russ on this. I can't treat MADD with respect when they don't act with dignity and honesty; yet I absolutely treat them with respect in regards the excellent work they've done in decreasing drunk driving.
Why do I continually beat the drum against the New Drys? Because I've read history, of Prohibition and how we got it, and of the resurgence of the anti-alcohol movement as government and quasi-government agency. And the thing I saw, repeatedly, is that these people succeeded in their restrictions on normal drinking when those who drank or made drink failed to take them seriously. I believe that any time a fallacious statement about drinking is made by a New Dry group, someone should correct them. But don't get me wrong: I don't want to silence them. Not in the least. When a drinker/brewer/distiller says something wrong about drinking, they should be held to the same standards. What I really want is to put the debate, a debate we truly need, on a more fact-based plane. It's not there now. Wishing for that may be optimistic. But that's what I want.