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Evans: Flip-flops and Busch, a summer theme

BY BENJAMIN EVANS | JULY 27, 2012 6:30 AM

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The Internet is horrible. Yeah, OK, I realize it’s awesome, but it has one huge flaw: No delete button.

We all have those little, embarrassing things out in the public space: that provocative photo you didn’t want your grandma to see; that drunk jumble of a love letter you posted on your ex-girlfriend’s Facebook wall; that time when you dressed up in a Batman Snuggie and ran around Daum yelling, “Teen Titans, go.”

We’ve all had to pay the toll in some way.

And now it’s the UI administration’s turn.

When Anhueser-Busch came out with the notorious “fan cans” in 2009 sporting the Hawkeye colors, along with many other colleges’ colors, the UI administration was reportedly outraged.

“On behalf of The University of Iowa, I want to express our extreme displeasure with the black-and-gold-colored can promotion in our community and the surrounding area,” said UI President Sally Mason in a letter sent in 2009 to Carol Clark, vice president for corporate social responsibility at Anheuser-Busch at the time. “We are concerned about the fact that this promotion appeals to students, many of whom are under the age of 21.”

Thank you, 2009 President Mason — that’s exactly what I thought when UI announced it would allow Busch to put the Tigerhawk logo next to such brands as Budweiser and Natural Light.

“Your promotion [fan can] is a step backward and will only serve to exacerbate this major student health and safety problem,” Mason continued.

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

But, wait. Doesn’t the new promotion appeal to students, many of whom are under the age of 21?

Wouldn’t the new promotion be a step backwards and only servesto exacerbate the major student health and safety problem?

That can’t be right, because Mason said in a July 24 interview with The Daily Iowan the reason the administration didn’t like the fan cans was because Busch didn’t have the UI’s approval.

“Well, you know the fan cans — nobody ever asked our permission,” Mason said. “It was not part of the arrangement, the agreement, it was just done, and that’s what we objected to.”

Whoops, bet you are wishing the Internet had a delete button now.

Silly fan cans: If only Busch had put up money to fund alcohol-safety programs on campus, then maybe the UI wouldn’t have been “very disappointed in the decision to use this marketing strategy.”

But now, with the ringing in of the new deal, there seems to be a completely different attitude toward alcohol marketing on campus. Why the change of heart?

UI spokesman Tom Moore said the university now has the right to review and approve of any promotion concerning the Tigerhawk logo and school colors.

Moore echoed the president’s sentiment that the primary reason the school previously objected to the use of school colors to promote alcoholic beverages was because Busch “did not seek prior approval.”

Interesting, coming from the same man who was also quoted in a 2009 DI article saying the fan cans would send a “mixed message at a time when we are encouraging students to drink legally and responsibly.”

Where is the delete button? I can’t find it wading through all this hypocrisy. 

But it’s all OK, guys, because the UI is using the money to fund alcohol safety.

Or, as Moore put it, like “requiring casinos in the state to help fund gambling addiction.” In this metaphor, Moore pointed out that UI is not the casino.

I guess that would mean that UI is the swarm of people who get addicted to gambling?

See, the only problem with that metaphor is that UI is a university and is in the business of educating people, not making sure they have drinks at football games or that they have a classic college experience. The university and its alumni should not be considered a market in which to sell products. 

This is an educational institution. Give the public a straight answer.


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