On this day in 1916 the U.S. government passed the 18th amendment prohibiting the “…manufacture, sale, or transportation of intoxicating liquors.” The rest is history. But where did all the existing booze go and how did the feds dispose of alcohol confiscated in the years it was illegal? Retronaut has a series of photos with the answer to this question. It looks as if liquor fed the fishes and the daisies, marking an unintentionally intoxicating period of American history.
In a now-unfamiliar advertising strategy, this 1936 Thanksgiving-themed ad for whiskey suggests you make the scientifically “wholesome” choice: Seagram’s Crown.
Months of research by a group of trained, impartial men brought the answer: Seagram’s Crown Whiskies, used in moderation, are kind, considerate whiskies, and most likely to agree with the average man… they are thousands of men’s choice AS A MOST WHOLESOME FORM OF WHISKEY, besides! Choose them at the bar for your present pleasure without future penalty.
I’d like to practice… er, review the research methods.
Mark Fischetti has posted an interactive graphic at Scientific American that lets you look at the prevalence of several behaviors or characteristics measured on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s survey on risk factors. The graphic includes data on exercise, tobacco use, heavy drinking, binge drinking, and obesity. Commenters on the post suggested it’s unnecessarily snarky about obesity; that said, it provides a quick snapshot of several behaviors demographers often use to judge general trends in health. For each topic, a graph shows the state where it is highest and lowest; you can also select up to 3 additional states to compare.
For instance, the percent of people who took part in a physical activity in the last month is highest in Oregon and lowest in Mississippi; I added my home state of Oklahoma (dark blue) and current residence of Nevada (light blue) too:
You also get a map for each topic that shows where it’s most or least common. Here’s the map for smoking:
Sconnies, you may not be surprised to know that Wisconsin leads the nation in binge drinking:
At the journal Epidemiology, John Cunningham published a proof-of-concept article aimed to show that Twitter is a useful and viable method of data collection.
His data captured the incidences of the words “wine,” “beer,” and “vodka” over the course of a week. The figure shows that people are tweeting about these spirits more-or-less in unison, that they tend to do so increasingly towards the end of each day, and that wine and beer are weekday favorites, but vodka comes out ahead on the weekends, especially as the night wears on:
So, I thought that was kinda neat! Now we know something about when and what people are (tweeting about) drinking and also that Twitter is good for something other than sending people messages that everyone else can see, but no one else can understand.
Dolores R. sent in a flubbed opportunity to represent Mexicans positively and reach out to the expanding Mexican market in the U.S. In “honor” of Cinco de Mayo, Mike’s Hard Lemonade hired five men — in fake mustaches and sombreros – to pretend to be a Mariachi band. They then improvised songs in response to submissions from viewers. The stunt is self-conscious, along the lines of the “ironic” “hipster racism” we now see so much of. Notice them making fun of themselves in this promo:
The fake band may have been making fun of themselves, but they did so by engaging in something that they had already decided was ridiculous, Mariachi music. Happy Cinco de Mayo, everyone.
A better approach, Latino Rebels suggests, would have been to spotlight some of the actual awesome Mariachi music out there. They wouldn’t have even had to be traditional. They could have hired a real band to improvise, or they could have drawn on the existing Mariachi cover bands, bands that do really neat stuff! Here’s, for example, is a band covering Hotel California:
Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
YetAnotherGirl, Andrew, Rosemary, Nathan Jurgens0n, Dolores, and Ann K. all sent in an ad for Belvedere Vodka that should be listed in the annals of bad ideas. The ad shows a gleeful man grabbing a distressed-looking woman who, we are to presume from the text, must not be going down smoothly (via Feministing):
Because how is it not funny to present your product in a context that says sexual assault is funny?
Online criticism of an ad that seems to be making a joke about forcing women to engage in sexual acts led to the company pulling the ad and issuing an apology of the passive “sorry if you were offended” type:
The company’s president also apologized when speaking to CNN about the controversy (via The Consumerist):
It should never have happened. I am currently investigating the matter to determine how this happened and to be sure it never does so again. The content is contrary to our values and we deeply regret this lapse.
The company also made a donation to the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN).
Phil Villarreal, who posted about the ad and the apology at The Consumerist, suggests that the ad may be even more cynical than it at first appears:
The cynical might wonder whether or not the campaign and apology made up a coordinated effort to draw attention to the brand.
Intentionally invoking outrage, then making an apology and symbolic corporate donation as marketing strategy. Any readers with marketing expertise have any insight here? We often see cases of companies desperately trying to control the negative effects of controversies. When does a controversy hurt a brand and when does it serve as a marketing opportunity?
UPDATE: Reader Tom points out that it turns out to be a still from a parody video that someone at the company then reposted (via Adland):
Somebody on their social media team obviously created (or found) and posted it thinking it was an amusing parody. And that person has probably been found and fired.
But it is unlikely anyone officially *in charge* of the brand actually saw and approved this.
As Tom says, this brings up a separate issue: the challenges to companies of managing brand image in a world where one person in the organization can quickly disseminate something via the company’s social networking sites to thousands or even millions of people with much less oversight than a traditional ad campaign would get, especially when viewers make little distinction between images included in tweets or Facebook updates and those in billboards, print ads, etc.
Here we have another great vintage ad (1962) that upsets the idea that today’s norms are trans-historical. First, the idea of having a “pint about midday” would be considered inappropriate by many U.S. employers (though, as several commenters have pointed out, not necessarily elsewhere). Second, the large print — “Beer, It’s Lovely!” — sounds unmasculine today, even though these grizzled sea-farers likely would have seemed perfectly masculine enough at the time.