Bud Light Fan Can Draws Criticism

The new Bud Light "Fan Can" promotion features beer cans decorated in the colors of college football teams. Some universities have objected, on grounds that the cans encourage alcohol consumption. But some schools are also concerned about agreements with other brewers.

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Anheuser Busch is making an effort to reach college football fans, and they're doing it to the chagrin of some schools and parents. They're putting Bud Light in so-called Fan Cans decorated with school colors.

As NPR's Jeff Brady reports, that is not going down well with a number of schools, including one at the foot of those crisp and refreshing Rocky Mountains.

JEFF BRADY: Im standing on the campus of the University of Colorado in Boulder, where freshman orientation is underway and there are Welcome, Students signs everywhere. But the folks who make Bud Light were hoping to win over senior Teddy Finling(ph) as a customer by putting the school's black, silver and gold colors on its cans - it failed.

Mr. TEDDY FINLING: I dont know if itd make people buy it any more. I mean, it's a crappy beer so, you know, they got to do, you know, anything they can to sell it.

BRADY: Despite Finling's opinion, Bud Light is doing just fine in the sales department. But there is another problem. Just down the road in Golden, Colorado is the headquarters for Coors beer, and that company has a longstanding marketing agreement with the University of Colorado.

CU spokesman Bronson Hilliard says when the school learned about Budweiser's campaign, it sent a letter to the company asking them to stop. He says, at first, the brewer argued the colors didnt mean anything in particular. Hilliard says the university wrote back to protect its agreement with Coors.

Mr. BRONSON HILLIARD (Spokesman, University of Colorado): These colors are strongly associated with the University of Colorado. And in this market for consumers around here, they wouldnt mean anything else. And at length, they said: Okay, you're right.

BRADY: Budweiser pulled the campaign from Boulder. In fact, the company has done the same in other towns where schools have asked them to. The whole controversy seems a bit goofy to Julene Austin(ph). She's brought her freshman son here for college. So the risks associated with underage drinking are a big concern to her.

Ms. JULENE AUSTIN: Coors versus Budweiser now? I mean, I dont think they should do that either. I think this school should just kind of not have anything to do with beer, you know, alcohol and the kids in the school.

BRADY: In a written statement, Budweiser says it never meant to encourage underage people to drink. It just wants to give sports fans a fun way to celebrate their team as football season starts.

Jeff Brady, NPR News, Boulder, Colorado.

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