As Americans, we are constantly exposed to advertisements. Between TV commercials, radio commercials, print ads in magazines and newspapers, billboards and even ads on websites like Facebook, there is no real escape. And as college students, it seems that this exposure has only increased because we are considered legal adults, but we are still young and we are only human, so we don’t necessarily have the best judgment all the time.
However, one product that seems to constantly advertise is alcohol. Alcohol companies have to compete with each other, and as young adults, many of the cheaper brands target our age groups. This has sparked a lot of controversy with one particular company, Four Loko, on certain college campuses.
A few years ago, Four Loko eliminated the caffeine content from its alcoholic beverages due to the number of deaths associated with it. We have all been taught for years that those two drugs should not ever be mixed, so it is no surprise that the company received flack from the public and eventually had to change its formula so that it is only alcohol.
But the company cannot seem to catch a break. Now, many college campuses are banning the marketing of the brand at their schools because they feel as though Four Loko is trying to market to underage drinkers, especially through featuring underage people in their advertisements, according to a Huffington Post article.
The actual Four Loko website is like many other alcoholic brands; a person must enter his or her birthday before gaining access to the site. While underage people can enter a fake birthday if they really desire access, that cannot be the website’s fault. They have the precautions set up to attempt to keep it to those people who are of legal age, especially since people must enter their country too, so that 19-year-olds in Europe can enter but not those in the United States.
Additionally, the Four Loko Facebook page, which has received much of the backlash from consumers, seems to feature typical posts from an alcohol company. The page links to different websites in addition to the actual company’s and they include photos of people who are holding Four Lokos. These photos are largely what college campuses find troubling, stating that many of these people in photographs are underage.
This Editorial Board does not see how Four Loko can be a larger culprit of targeting underage drinkers than any other alcoholic beverage. Unless the students posing in some of those photographs actually attend the schools that are enraged by the marketing campaigns, there is not necessarily a way of determining their ages. Additionally, some people can simply look younger than they are, even if they are of legal age and have been for a while.
The people who are arguing that Four Loko’s campaign targets young drinkers claim that there should not be models that appear younger than 25 years old. However, this Editorial Board believes that Four Loko is targeting young drinkers who are approximately 21 to 25 years old, simply because older adults are not going to appreciate the taste as much. Part of this marketing strategy includes having young models, even if certain people are opposed to it. The actual marketing on the physical cans of Four Loko also seem to appeal to young adults, but this does not mean that it promotes underage drinking.
Generally, this Editorial Board understands the concern of underage drinking and the concern of overconsumption. Because Four Loko has removed the caffeine from its beverages, it does not seem to be any more harmful than many alcoholic drinks, and it seems unfair to target this one brand specifically when there can only be so much done by the company to deter underage drinking. People who drink underage will choose to do so, even if Four Loko marketing campaigns are banned on campuses, and they may choose to drink something else. It is their fault for choosing to drink underage, and it is the fault of someone who bought or sold it to them when they are not of legal age. Four Loko should not have to suffer for some consumers’ poor decisions.