The Malt Liquor Wars

Snoop Dogg promotes Blast by Colt 45

Colt 45 is almost ready to release a new product called Blast.

Alas, this isn’t your father’s Colt 45. Blast has 12% alcohol by volume and is laced with caffeine. It will be marketed in a colorful can which critics say can easily be confused with a soft drink, making it dangerous for children. In a controversial move, the new owners of Pabst (which makes Colt 45) have hired the rapper Snoop Dogg to promote it, creating allegations that they are exploiting the African-American community.

Blast belongs to a category called “progressive adult beverages,” which grossed very close to $1 billion in sales last year. Mike’s Hard Lemonade is in this group, along with a drink called Four Loko. Activists are becoming more vocal in their opposition to these drinks, and in some cases are succeeding in having an effect—last year, the manufacturers of Four Loko voluntarily removed the caffeine from their beverage after several college students died from drinking it.

It’s unlikely that I’ll be quaffing any Blast, but I thought it would be interesting to examine the objections to it: 1. It contains fruit flavors and 12% alcohol by volume (so does wine). 2. The packaging is bright and colorful, making it attractive to younger drinkers (same thing with Yellow Tail, as well as most of the “critter labels” coming from Australia). 3. Children are likely to be attracted to the packaging and try to buy it (in my experience, kids want a lot of things, and someone has to tell them no—in this case, the guy working in the convenience store). 4. It is exploiting the African-American community (absolutely—but no worse than Thunderbird, which was actually given away in ghetto areas prior to its launch in the 1950s. Gallo makes a number of these brands, and I don’t recall anyone objecting to them).

To be safe, perhaps we should just ban everything potentially dangerous to humanity. Take the example of cars—nearly 34,000 people died on America’s roads last year. Yet they are still marketed based on their horsepower and acceleration power, and many of the ads are clearly targeted to the younger segment of the population.

Zoom, zoom.



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