Colleges: If Bud Light cans are a problem, check your bookstore

Administrators at several colleges are upset about new Bud Light cans that come in school colors. For example, “Purple-and-gold cans are being sold near the campus of Louisiana State University, and red-and-gold containers near Iowa State University” [“Team-Color Bud Cans Leave Colleges Flat” — Wall Street Journal, 8/21/09]. According to the article in the Journal, “many college administrators contend that the promotions near college campuses will contribute to underage and binge drinking and give the impression that the colleges are endorsing the brew.”

I understand these officials not wanting to see anything that might encourage underage or excessive drinking. But I find it somewhat strange that this message is coming from people who run universities that sell–in their own campus bookstores–products bearing the school’s colors and logo and that are clearly designed for alcohol.

According to the CU bookstore, this pitcher is a great addition to any home bar or tailgate party.

According to the CU bookstore, this pitcher is 'a great addition to any home bar or tailgate party.'

For example, Colorado University is mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article as being upset about the Bud Light cans that come in CU colors, but then sells products such as this CU glass pitcher that would make “a great addition to any home bar or tailgate party,” according to their website.

Boston College is another one of the schools who has asked that the Fan Cans stop being distributed near their campus. But, you can pick up one of these BC tankards from their bookstore and just fill it from a keg on days those Bud Light cans aren’t available.

At Texas A&M, they don’t want Anheuser-Busch selling beer cans with school colors, but you can feel free to keep any beer you’d like cold and show your school pride at the same time with one of their collapsible can huggers.

Finally, there’s Stony Brook University, whose president sent a letter to Anheuser-Busch, calling the campaign “categorically unacceptable.” According to the Wall Street Journal article, “Stony Brook recently launched a national program called Red Watch Band, which seeks to harness school pride and ‘positive peer pressure’ to discourage heavy drinking.”

Available in the Stony Brook University Bookstore

Available in the Stony Brook University Bookstore

I honestly think that a program encouraging students to look out for one another like that sounds like a great idea. But I’m confused as to how having the controversial Bud Light cans sold near campus doesn’t mesh with their program designed to curb heavy drinking, yet being able to grab products like a Stony Brook University fluted shot glass from their bookstore is ok. The same fake ID that can buy the Bud Light in cans bearing school colors can also buy something to fill school-branded shot glasses.

According to the Journal article, Anheuser-Busch “says it will drop the campaign near any college that makes a formal complaint.” In the meantime, it’s likely that a lot more students know about the special edition Bud Light cans and to look for them in stores because of the publicity the backlash is giving the campaign.

Could these cans “contribute to underage and binge drinking?” Maybe. But the same thing could be said about some of the items for sale in campus bookstores under the control of people crying foul at Anheuser-Busch.


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