Anheuser Busch Cos. Inc., the manufacturer of Budweiser, has teamed up with Pepin Distributing in Tampa to fight alcohol abuse, drunk driving and underage drinking.
The companies have introduced a series of programs such as Family-Talk About Drinking, Operation ID, Stay Alive From Education (S.A.F.E) and Alert Cab.
Bill Giesking, director for marketing at Pepin, said the company is promoting responsible drinking.
“We’re promoting the legal and responsible consumption of our product,” he said.
But Dan Bagley, a USF advertising professor, said the programs are definitely a method of advertising.
“It is an advertising technique often employed by numerous companies,” Bagley said.
Bagley gave some examples of companies or corporations that used this method, especially since the Sept. 11 attacks.
“There are certain institutional advertisements, such as insurance companies saluting firemen, that promote the image of the company involved.
Bagley also said water companies and electric companies are employing this method by advocating conservation of water and electricity.
“TECO and water companies are promoting their image by asking consumers to reduce their consumption of water and light,” he said.
Giesking said that it was concern, not the promotion of the product sales, that prompted the company into implementing the programs.
“I’ve got kids, and I feel concerned for children who are drinking underage,” he said. “We as a company oppose drunk driving and the abuse of our products.”
Rebecca Herbert, a junior majoring in biology, said she is appreciative of the fact that the companies are introducing these programs.
“It’s certainly a very good thing,” Herbert said. “I’m totally against drunk driving.”
Alert Cab is one of the programs being implemented by Anheuser Busch and Pepin. The companies have teamed up with United Cab to offer restaurant customers complimentary cab rides home if they have had too much to drink. In addition, Alert Cab will also give students a ride back to their car the next day.
Herbert said it was sometimes difficult to find sober drivers after a night out.
“It’s always annoying to find people trustworthy enough to be designated drivers,” Herbert said. “No one ever wants to be the driver who has only a little to drink.”
However, Herbert expressed fear about Alert Cab because she wasn’t sure if she would be able to trust strangers either.
“The idea sounds weird because I wouldn’t want to trust strangers to drive me back home either,” she said. “I would feel safer with something like Sober Ride which was implemented by the university.”
Sober Ride, the designated driver system funded by Student Government was shut down due to insurance problems last summer.
Mike Griffin, student body president, explained how Alert Cab is an interim substitute to Sober Ride.
“We’re actually participating in Alert Cab as an alternative to Sober Ride,” Griffin said “At participating locations, students can call Alert Cab to pick them up at any time and at any place.” Griffin said teaming up with Alert Cab is only a temporary solution to the closing down of Sober Ride.
“We’re not really looking at a permanent partnership,” Griffin said. “Sober Ride was very successful, we had great pride in it, and we were hoping to re-install a similar program.”
Bagley said he was not certain whether the programs would improve the sale of the companies’ products, but he did say they promoted the companies’ long-term viability.
Bethany Silvera, a junior majoring in interdisciplinary natural sciences, said the programs encouraged her to buy the companies’ products.
“I think I would definitely buy their products because it shows that they care about the consumers,” Silvera said.
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