Labatt pulls Maximum Ice ads

Labatt Breweries of Canada has bowed to concerns of special interest groups and pulled its ads for 7.1% alcohol Maximum Ice.The commercial, which was created by Scali McCabe Sloves of Toronto, was taken off the air last week in Ontario and...

Labatt Breweries of Canada has bowed to concerns of special interest groups and pulled its ads for 7.1% alcohol Maximum Ice.

The commercial, which was created by Scali McCabe Sloves of Toronto, was taken off the air last week in Ontario and will be pulled in other provinces over the next few weeks.

Paul Smith, Labatt director of public relations, says the company has not determined whether more tv advertising will be created for Maximum Ice to replace the campaign that has incensed interest groups such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Traffic Injury Research Foundation of Canada.

Smith says that, originally, there were no plans to extend advertising for Maximum Ice beyond the launch because it is considered a niche brand and is expected to support itself.

He says, as the main brand, Labatt Ice will continue to get the majority of advertising support in the ice-brewed category.

Labatt has also increased the price of Maximum Ice – an already premium-priced brew – by $1.20 to bring it 12% above regularly priced brands.

In Ontario, 24 bottles of Maximum Ice (deposit included) will now sell for $29.50.

Molson Breweries is selling its new 7.3% Triple X ice-brewed beer at a price 20% higher than regular brands, $31.60 for a case of 24 bottles.

Freda Colbourne, Molson director of corporate communications, says Molson may rethink the price of Triple X if the government finds the premium price set by Labatt acceptable.

Labatt announced its changes to the Maximum Ice marketing campaign simultaneously with the National Responsible Marketing Code for Higher Alcohol Beers released last week by the Brewers Association of Canada.

Both Labatt and Molson have endorsed the code, which covers beers with a strength of more than 6.2% alcohol by volume.

It is similar to the one issued by Molson Breweries on Nov. 9, although Molson also called for mandatory premium pricing and restrictions on the distribution of high alcohol beers.

Price and distribution are regulated by the government, or voluntary, but cannot be decided as an industry.

The industry’s voluntary guidelines state that:

- Broadcast advertisements for higher alcohol beer will not be aired before 10 p.m.

- Advertising will be limited to programs that appeal to those over the age of 24.

- Advertising will not use spokespersons, imagery, language, music or gestures that target young adults.

- Higher alcohol beers will not be associated with rock concerts and motor sports.

- Alcohol content will be clearly communicated in advertising.

- Advertising and point-of-sale material will not focus on price.

- Higher alcohol beers will not be promoted on campuses.