Feds probing liquor blurbs

FTC forces Kahlua, Beck's to pull ads

The Federal Trade Commission has opened up a broad new investigation of alcohol advertising and forced a beer and a liquor company to yank two ads from television.

The agency said it asked eight of the nation’s top marketers of beer, wine and liquor for “special reports” on their advertising and marketing practices. The FTC said it wants to know how the companies are carrying out self-regulatory programs designed to prevent alcohol ads from being aimed at children.

Separately, the FTC disclosed settlements of charges that TV commercials for Beck’s beer and Kahlua White Russian pre-mixed cocktail violated federal law. Beck’s beer came under fire for showing young adults cavorting on a boat while drinking beer. Kahlua’s ad, shown on cable-TV, was faulted for a line of text stating that the drink was low in alcohol content.

The FTC actions come as marketing of alcoholic beverages moves under increased scrutiny in Washington, reflecting concern about underage drinking. Meanwhile the industry’s advertising has grown increasingly high-profile, with wine makers sharply boosting their ad budgets and liquor company ads creeping onto television.

The FTC’s request went out to the following companies: Anheuser-Busch Cos., Bacardi Martini, Brown-Forman Corp., Adolph Coors Co., Diageo PLC, Philip Morris Cos.’ Miller Brewing unit, Stroh Brewery and Seagram.

The agency said it wants information on advertising and promotion on the Internet and product placement in movies, and other advertising techniques.

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