Are Craft Beers Advertising To Minors?

By Royce J.

So pretty…

Anybody growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s remembers R.J. Reynolds’ Joe Camel cigarette advertising campaign. Joe, an anthropomorphic American playboy camel, was crisply painted in bright fluid colors.  He engaged in a wide variety of actives: from playing piano to shooting pool, always accompanied by a Camel brand cigarette pressed between his generous lips, as well as a pair of shades. Joe was unceremoniously snuffed out in 1997 under a cloud of allegations that his ads targeted minors—-the Marlboro Man would follow suit two years later.

And so it was that the tobacco industry bowed to the pressure of shifting public sentiment and health data.  Nowadays, tobacco advertisements are strictly regulated, as are packaging, flavors, and sales.

Our Kids-Their Future
But what about America’s other favorite poison? It seems like the beer industry, specifically, craft-beers have been designing labels and characters that make Joe Camel look like someone who courted your grandmother.

In recent years, craft breweries have been popping up as fast as marijuana dispensaries.  They are defined as being independently owned, small-output, and concerned with quality over quantity.  But what they really should be concerned with is the juvenile nature of so many of their design and marketing techniques.

According to a Nielsen Survey, the craft beer market is composed of well-off males between ages 21-34. Many of the brewers fall in this similar demographic, so its no surprise that their advertising tactics would take on a more youthful tone.

Aside from the quality taste, part of the craft beer appeal lies in the artful marriage of label design and creative titles that play on the nature of the beer.   From “Hoptimus Prime Double IPA” and “Baby Got Bock,” to “Miami Weiss” and “Pearl Necklace Oyster Stout,” the punny originality is only matched by the accompanying art.

But if Joe Camel took a fall for the cigarette industry, then the craft beer offers plenty of candidates that one could easily be accused of direct marketing to the under 21 demographic.  This is by no means an exhaustive lists, but it didn’t take long to form a solid line-up of beers wrapped in decorative images that could easily double as Saturday morning cartoons.  These are the most egregious offenders:

The List

9. Unicorn Farts-Duclaw-Mythical creatures and passing gas—sounds like childhood in a nutshell.

8. Cat’s Away-Trouble Brewing: You know the old expression, when the cat’s away, the mice will get freakin’ tanked.

7. Great White-Lost Coast Brewery: The cartoon shark looks like he’d be more interested in the beer drinker than the actual beer.

6. Effortless IPA-Captain Lawrence Brewing Company: Its always disturbing when pigs advertise the BBQ of their own species. On that note, here’s a hop plant drinking beer.

5.Romantic Chemistry IPA-Dogfish Head:Not sure those fruits have chemistry so much as they’re just super drunk.

4. Space Otter American Pale Ale-Mispillion River Brewing: Apparently the future of interstellar exploration lies in America’s rivers. It also sounds like a Ron Burgundy expression: “Son of a Space Otter!”

3. Voodoo Ranger-New Belgium: Looks like Skeletor put world domination on- hold in order to join the National Park Service.

2. Button Masher-Electric Bear: Take your pick from any of this British company’s effervescent temptations. Button masher? What kid doesn’t enjoy a crisp IPA while staying up late on a school night owning noobs?

1.Smooth Hoperator-Stoudts. The clear winner. This guy looks like one of Joe Camel’s drinking buddies–or former cell mate.

Sip On This
Its not that I was convinced to smoke because of self-confident camel, or that I’m naive enough to think that the under 21 population isn’t drinking their faces off anyway. I just think that the industry is blatantly taking aim at the youth and need to be called-out for it.  The animals, the colors, the sunglasses—its all there in a strikingly similar fashion to the tobacco industry.  Unfortunately for the underage crowd, craft beers ain’t cheap, and ID’s have gotten really hard to fake.

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