Over the years, Madison has gained a reputation for being a “party school,” with beer guzzling, keg-standing college students running amuck every which way on weekend nights. So, it only makes sense a beer company would eventually begin to advertise more aggressively in Madison.
And not just any beer company either: we’re talking about Pabst Blue Ribbon, the beer in the iconic red, white and blue can hipsters defend to the death, while others think it tastes like piss.
This past year, Pabst ran an ad campaign on metro buses in the city of Madison with bus wraps which made it appear as if a 10-ton case of beer was rumbling down the street. The buses were wrapped in images of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans, and some included Rosie the Riveter flexing her muscles, tatted up with a Pabst tattoo across her forearm.
Many college students were met with disappointment when they realized the buses were not actually filled with beer. For other city-goers, the buses were an eyesore, and thus these beer cans with wheels are no more.
Personally, I liked the buses with the Pabst advertising. I thought they were way more interesting to look at than the traditional white with blue trim buses. In comparison to the typically conservative style of public advertising, they were an edgy, modern advertisement rooted in tradition that gave the city something to talk about.
Also, every once in a while it was nice to imagine the type of party one could throw with a bus full of beer.
Besides providing aesthetic appeal and fueling my deep, dark fantasies, the buses served as a source of revenue for the city and accounted for part of the $450,000 that Madison Metro Transit made during this past year off of advertising. That is a lot of money, and it mainly goes to Metro Transit’s operating budget. I would like to think in the event only companies in the beer industry wanted to advertise on buses, in order to create much-needed revenue, the city would definitely allow it. Unless, of course, the only beer company that wants to advertise is Beer 30.
A logical argument against allowing beer companies to advertise on city buses is although adults age 21 and older are the target audience, many people outside that audience will see the ads, including children. There have been studies that indicate the introduction of alcohol advertisements to children at young ages tend to lead to future struggles with alcohol. However, I think it ultimately rests in the parents’ hands to teach their kids right from wrong. If a parent plays an active role in their child’s life, then there is no reason why a simple advertisement would single-handedly cause the child to later develop issues related to alcohol.
If I were a parent, I would tell my kids Pabst is a drink for hipster grown-ups, not children, and if they start drinking Pabst, Santa won’t come.
I think the city should bring back the Pabst buses, and maybe even add some Coors Light advertisements on a train around the Madison area so we can have our very own “Silver Bullet.” Even though the advertisements probably did not serve that much of a purpose because beer will always be consumed in Madison, they were some of the more intriguing advertisements on buses I have seen.
I do realize Madison is not only a college town, but also a community. However, I think parents should take responsibility for raising their children rather than blaming advertisements for future problems related to alcohol.
Hayes Cascia (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a sophomore with an undeclared major.