MillerCoors Postpones Launch of Sparks Red

Brewer Responds to Pressure From AGs Regarding Alcoholic Energy Drink

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CHICAGO ( -- Bowing (for now, at least) to a group of unhappy state attorneys general, MillerCoors is putting the launch of a controversial alcoholic energy drink on hold, it said in a statement released this afternoon.

The statement reads: "Pending a dialogue with state attorneys general who have expressed concern about Sparks Red, MillerCoors is placing the brewing and distribution of the product on hold." It also noted that the federal government had approved the product's label and formulation earlier this year.

Critics energized
Sparks Red is a higher-alcohol version of Sparks, a fast-growing alcoholic energy drink that has itself been the target of criticism from activists and officials.

Twenty-five attorneys general wrote MillerCoors earlier in the week to ask the brewer not to go forward with the launch. "By introducing Sparks Red, a higher-alcohol-content and even more dangerous version of its Sparks product, MillerCoors is demonstrating an utter disregard for the safety of young consumers," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said in a statement.

Faced with similar criticism, Anheuser-Busch abandoned the alcoholic energy drink segment earlier this year, but in doing so it was only walking away from minor also-ran brands that had never achieved much traction with consumers.

In Sparks, MillerCoors has the segment's top-selling brand, one Miller Brewing Co. acquired in 2006 as part of a $215 million deal.

Coors Brewing Co., which formed a U.S. joint venture with Miller earlier this summer, did not market any alcoholic energy brands.
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