MADD'S MOOD TURNS TOUGHER ON LIQUOR ADS

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WASHINGTON-Mothers Against Drunk Driving is talking tougher these days against alcohol advertising.

The Dallas-based MADD, historically a moderate voice against alcohol marketing practices, has unveiled a new policy statement that opposes a variety of specific ads and promotions, such as those with Halloween themes. The statement takes aim at alcohol ads featuring celebrities with "special appeal to youth"; those using sports, rock concerts or "other events with strong appeal to youth"; and ads that associate alcohol consumption with high-risk activities.

The new attitude was adopted last month, and reflects the more aggressive views of Beckie Brown, MADD's president of less than a year, and the majority of the group's 25-member board.

Previously the group espoused a general position against youth-oriented advertising and promotions, Ms. Brown said.

Now, however, she said MADD has moved to a more "aggressive" stance, and that means getting more specific about the marketing practices the group finds objectionable.

"We'll take it to the media," she said.

Unlike many anti-alcohol groups, MADD has retained a working relationship with alcohol marketers and broadcasters despite occasional disagreements. Rory Benson, senior VP-assistant to the president at the National Association of Broadcasters, sits on the MADD board, for example, and both groups have representatives on various anti-drunken driving organizations.

"We've always agreed to disagree on some things and work together on others," said NAB VP-Media Relations Lynn McReynolds. "Right now we're working on another youth conference with MADD. As for their new policy statement, there is not that much that we take issue with."

Association of National Advertisers Exec VP Dan Jaffe said MADD has always been ranked among consumer groups "who were very strongly against alcohol problems but were not knee-jerk about it."

"We've always thought them to be among the middle-of-the-road groups," Mr. Jaffe said. "But there was somewhat of a revolution there when their founder [Candy Lightner] was replaced."

Ms. Brown alluded to that change when she noted that MADD no longer accepts money from alcohol marketers.

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