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Anheuser-Busch rep denies impact of ad’s lizards & frogs on youth

DURHAM, N.C. (BP)–Anheuser-Busch, one of the nation’s largest breweries, has defended its lizard-and-frog advertising in responding to anti-alcohol crusader Ted Stone’s plea to “reexamine” the ads’ impact on the nation’s youth.

Stone personally delivered a letter to Anheuser-Busch headquarters in May pleading with the company to reexamine its advertising policies. He presented the letter during his third “Walking and Talking Across America” tour.

“I am pleading with your company to carefully reexamine past advertising programs to ascertain whether this type advertising, particularly those ads associated with comical characters such as lizards and frogs, does indeed contain strong appeal for our young people,” Stone wrote.

A spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch recently responded to Stone’s letter, criticizing him for his assertion that the alcohol problem is part of the national drug problem.

“Alcohol is legal, narcotics are not,” spokesperson Suzanne Gruenstein wrote. “There is a difference between a responsible adult enjoying a cold beer on a hot afternoon and an addict sitting in an abandoned building shooting up heroin.”

Gruenstein described the company’s advertisements as “responsible and in good taste.” She pointed out that a national survey by USA Today picked their ad campaign as “the public’s favorite” and said that the company spends millions of dollars to combat alcohol abuse.

Stone, in a letter of response, commended Anheuser-Busch’s efforts to fight alcohol abuse but argued that the company should do more.

“Anheuser-Busch is in a unique position to exert special leadership in the solution of this key aspect of America’s drug problem,” he wrote.

“No thoughtful person could deny the enticing influence of these beer commercials on those who view them,” Stone added. “I again acknowledge the effectiveness of your award-winning advertising campaigns, but can the resulting profits be worth the loss of so many young people to the web of alcohol addiction?”

The Durham, N.C., crusader has devoted the past 23 years to help people find answers to one of the nation’s leading social problems and has helped underscore the issue among Southern Baptists and other Christians.

His most recent cross-country crusade started Jan. 31 in Laredo, Texas. Like his other walks across America, this most recent endeavor had an important message — the one that he delivered to the owners and management of Anheuser-Busch Company.

Stone said the beer company’s executives needed to hear his message. “I really do believe that we must be extremely careful on the influence we have on other people,” he said. “The beer industry has a great influence on people’s lives. I’m praying for a positive answer to my letter.

“I believe that if Anheuser-Busch would delete the advertising bearing specific appeals to our young, then other beer industries would soon follow suit,” he added.

Stone said the purpose of his nationwide walks is not to pass judgment on the beer industry. “I made my plea in a realistic and kindhearted way,” Stone said. “But these companies have a grave responsibility.”

During Stone’s walk, which ended May 18, he spoke in churches, schools, civic groups, prisons and rehabilitation centers.

Stone has also collected nearly 500,000 commitment cards from people pledging to live a life free from drug abuse.

“Our nation needs a new set of heroes,” Stone proclaimed in a recent issue of SBC Life, published by the SBC Executive Committee. “What better hero could one have than someone he sees almost on a daily basis such as a family member or friend who embraces sobriety and self-control as the best road to happiness, success and inner peace?”

Stone said he hopes to return to St. Louis for a meeting with the Busch family.

“With the alcohol problem among young people at terrifying levels, we need citizens of good will to consider sacrifices to help cure this tragedy,” Stone said. “Businesses like Anheuser-Busch must sacrifice profits to help save our young people.”

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes