Friday, September 21, 2018

From the Wire - Business

MillerCoors defends ice beer ads from critics

MILWAUKEE — MillerCoors said advertisements in Milwaukee touting the alcohol content of one of its beers are aimed at transparency so consumers can make informed choices.

Billboards along the city’s freeways say the alcohol content of Milwaukee’s Best Ice is now 6.9 percent, up from 5.9 percent, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.

Some experts connected to the beer industry are surprised the company is making alcohol content its primary pitch.

“I can’t recall ever seeing anybody advertising (the strength of a beer) and saying now that’s the feature of this brand that we’re featuring,” said Eric Shepard, executive editor of Beer Marketer’s Insights. “It’s not standard procedure.”

John Szymankiewicz, a North Carolina attorney who specializes in the craft beer industry, said he would not advise his clients to follow MillerCoors’ example.

Some restaurants and other locations serving craft brews often state the alcoholic content of each beer, but Szymankiewicz sees that as essentially providing relevant information to customers.

Szymankiewicz said MillerCoors is advertising alcoholic content for a different reason.

“You’re showcasing the increase in alcohol content as a feature and a reason you should buy it,” he said.

Father Michael Pfleger, a Chicago priest who has campaigned against alcohol advertising in poor neighborhoods, criticized MillerCoors’ move.

“We’re no longer just advertising the drink — now we’re advertising how much alcohol you can get in the consumption of the drink,” he said.

MillerCoors spokesman Marty Maloney said in an email that the company has a long-standing commitment to fighting alcohol abuse.

Generally, alcoholic content for most popular domestic beers is between 4.1 to 5.0 percent. Natural Ice, brewed by Anheuser-Busch InBev, and Keystone Ice, another MillerCoors economy brand, both stand at the former level of Milwaukee’s Best Ice — 5.9 percent.

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