Update: Beer 'fan cans' brew controversy

Update: Aug. 28:

About 25 colleges have asked the makers of Bud Light to stop a college-themed marketing campaign. You can now add the University of Missouri to that list.

In response to a KRCG News investigation, MU's chancellor is calling the "fan cans" marketing campaign "completely unacceptable." The school has sent a letter to Anheuser-Busch Inbev asking the beer makers to "immediately terminate" their "team pride" campaign.

On Thursday, KRCG News found at least one Columbia convenience store advertising the black and gold Bud Light "fan cans" by linking them to "Mizzou Football," with the outline of a player and the school's tiger logo.

"This is completely unacceptable and conveys the impression that the university is somehow supportive of this marketing effort," said MU chancellor Brady Deaton. "When, in fact, this marketing effort for the black and gold cans was never approved by MU."

Deaton's uspet over "marketing displays" that used "official MU trademarked products and logos." He also says the campaign could target underage students, which make up a "signifcant portion" of the Mizzou football fan base, he said in a statement.

"We are committed to promoting healthy lifestyles at MU," said Deaton. "The promotion of a beer product associated with our school colors is not consistent with that commitment."

Anheuser Busch has agreed to stop the school spirit promotion in communities that have objected. It's not clear how many have seen the colored cans removed.

Below is a copy of the letter MU's chancellor sent to Anheuser-Busch:

Mr. Frank Z. Hellwig, Esq. Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.One Busch PlaceSt. Louis, MO 63118-1852

Dear Mr. Hellwig:

I write in regard to the Anheuser-Busch campaign known as "Team Pride" that is marketing black and gold beer cans prior to the upcoming fall football season.

It has now come to our attention that the marketing displays of the black and gold beer cans in various retail establishments are being associated with official University of Missouri trademarked products and logos. This is completely unacceptable and conveys the impression to the consumer that the University of Missouri is somehow supportive of this marketing effort for black and gold cans that were, in fact, never approved by MU. I ask that Anheuser-Busch immediately take action to terminate this marketing practice, which is now infringing upon the university's identity and reputation.

Given the fact that underage college students make up a significant portion of the audience for Mizzou football, we are deeply concerned about the potential impact of such a campaign on our students. At MU, we work hard to educate our students about making responsible choices, and I would call upon Anheuser-Busch as a leading Missouri corporation to assist us in that process rather than targeting this age group with team colors on beer cans.

At the University of Missouri, we put students first. We ask that Anheuser-Busch do the same and cease this "Team Pride" campaign.


Brady J. DeatonChancellor

Original Story, Aug. 27:

Some colleges are telling the makers of Bud Light to can it.

A new Anheuser-Busch Inbev marketing campaign is getting an icy reception on college campuses.

The so-called "fan cans" for Bud Light are dressed in college colors. In Columbia, black and gold cans have hit the shelves. The Mizzou themed cans are meant to tap into school spirit.

Critics say this new marketing strategy could promote underage drinking.

"I would say alcohol itself promotes underage drinking. I don't think the school colors has anything to do with it," said Ehlyx Baski, 18, an MU freshman. "I think it's definitely a good way for Budweiser to make money off MU students."

Advertising for these "limited edition" black and gold cans say they're "tailgate approved" and "Your tailgate just got awesome." The Federal Trade Commission has expressed concern the cans will be marketed to underage fans.

At least 25 colleges across the country have asked Anheuser-Busch Inbev not to sell the colored cans in their communities. The beer makers have agreed to drop the promotion in communities where schools have complained.

It's not clear how many have seen the campaign dropped.

"A lot of our peer institutions are saying, 'No not in our town,' and I think it would be appropriate for us to say that," said Kim Dude, the director of MU's Wellness Resource Center.

"These cans, I think, kind of goes to the misperception that alcohol is a natural part of a sports event," said Dude. "And it really isn't a natural part."

The University of Missouri's trademark office is aware of the campaign but isn't taking action because the packaging doesn't actually show the school's logo, according to the Columbia Daily Tribune.

However, KRCG News found an ad at one Columbia convenience store that directly links "Mizzou Football" with Budweiser, showing the outline of a player with the school's tiger logo.

"College sports, in a way, are kind of subsidized by alcohol," said Dan Greenwald, 19, an MU sophomore who wore a Mizzou jersey. "I mean sports and alcohol go together."