First it was Yale shoes. Then it was school-themed perfumes. Then, Harvard approved a Harvard Yard clothing line. Now, it's beer cans of school colors.
Just in time for football season, Bud Light has released "Fan Cans"--a line of 12 oz. beer cans emblazoned with different school colors. The fan cans come in 27 different color combinations, such as dark blue and gold; orange and black; and maroon and white, and are sold near the campuses whose school colors match the can (no can design includes an actual school name or official logo). Anheuser-Busch's campaign is marketing mostly towards current students, inviting to "Show your [sic] true colors with Bud Light," and sales have already jumped since students returned to campus.
Not surprisingly, schools aren't happy. Only about 25 percent of college students are old enough to drink, and many schools and their health officials argue that the fan cans encourage negative peer pressure and promote underage drinking. In response, Anheuser-Busch has said that it will remove the cans from the neighborhood of any school that files a formal complaint--as of Friday, at least 25 schools had filed a complaint, according to The Wall Street Journal. For now, though, most schools are just keeping an eye out for the cans before they decide if the cans should be prohibited.
But the controversy doesn't end there: the Federal Trade Commission has joined the debate. Senior FTC attorney Janet Evans told the WSJ that the FTC is very concerned that the Fan Can campaign is too directly targeting an underage demographic. "We're looking at this closely," Evans said. "We've talked to the company and expressed our concerns." Although she did not say that the FTC had officially started an investigation of Anheuser-Busch, she did say that "We would certainly hope that something like this never happens again." So the Fan Cans may soon become a collector's item, to be kept in alumni basements along with big foam fingers and football phones.
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