Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Consumerism gone wrong

I have never been one to criticize the marketing industry in America the way my friends at the International Socialist Organization seem to enjoy so much. The usual suspects harp about consumerism gone wrong and Americans’ tendencies to use more than their fair share of mother earth’s resources, and now I fear I must sound off on Madison Avenue as well.

The ad wizards have been up to no good, especially when they have put their minds to marketing products dear to my heart: adult beverages. Let the rant begin, and you can just call me Dean Keaton from here on out.

The latest campus consumption craze comes from across the pond, the invasion of the sissy drinks. It started with Smirnoff Ice, was followed by Skyy Blue, and now reprised by labels like Captain Morgan Gold, Bacardi Silver and Stoli Citrona.


Cleverly coined “alcopops” or “malternatives” by marketers, these fizzy, funky and fresh taste sensations simply suck. Big time.

I am sure many of them taste just fine, but the issue isn’t taste. It is about owning up to the fact that you don’t like beer. Bartles & James have been making wine coolers for years, and I have never had a problem with that.

There is nothing wrong with not enjoying the taste of beer and opting for a fruity alternative. But in a more honest era in our history, one had to deal with the ridicule that came along with sipping on the wine cooler. If you are a big enough person to take the heat, well, you are a better man than I, and I tip my hat.

The latest sissy drinks have escaped this feminine stigma through clever marketing and the attachment of a “hard”-liquor label to their fruity fizz. But I assure you, the only “hard” cola I ever had was three parts Admiral Nelson’s and one part Classic Coke on the rocks. There is no 5-percent malternative to that drink of dormitory lore.

I cannot advocate grabbing the ASM megaphone and marching around “the drink-special” block chanting, “hey, hey, ho, ho, Smirnoff Ice has got to go.” I do plead with my fellow bar-goers to think about this issue and give sissy drinks the stigma they deserve. Many patrons will continue to purchase these sissy drinks, but at least they will think about why, and perhaps the least confident amongst them will switch back to beer.

But such social change takes time, and a few months from now, I am sure many of the beer converts will have forgotten what beer tastes like and won’t know where to start. So many choices: macro brews, micro brews, imports, taps and bottles. Choosing a beer that’s right for you can be a daunting task. Thankfully, there are so many beer advertisements on football Sunday to help you make an informed choice.

How quickly my appreciation turns to disgust, though, when the barrage of ads appears from Coors. Something had to change at Coors after their simply stupid ads featuring John Elway and Ahmad Rashad hanging out in front of a Colorado landscape projected onto a B-studio blue screen asserting, “Now there’s an original.”

So the suits sitting around the conference table in their Madison Avenue office building said, “Why don’t we target the complete losers who have no confidence in themselves and will do anything to emulate a stereotypical ‘cool, young male’ drinking Coors Light?”

You can’t go wrong with a concept that “silver” bulletproof, unless, of course, your characterization of the “cool, young male” looks like an idiot.

Some Examples:

Cool guy: Paints chest Badger red and gets handcuffed at Camp Randall for being the loudest fan ever.

Loser guy: Paints chest in random colors and acts like an idiot in a beer commercial for a team no one can identify.

Cool guy: Does a Doublemint double take as two hot twins bike down the street, then continues being cool.

Loser guy: Goes on and on without end to his friends about how he loves slutty twins in porno movies.

Cool guy: Miles Davis

Loser guy: Andrew W K (a.k.a. Michael Bolton with an edge)

If you like the taste of Coors or you drink it because you love John Elway, great. But if you drink it because it looks like all cool NFL fans drink it in Coors’ latest ad campaign, then I pray that you will take a hard look at your life. Perhaps hang out with some Vikings fans this weekend, and see what cool is really all about.

A.J. Hughes ([email protected]) is a software developer and UW graduate.

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