MADD Blasts Budweiser’s Bullfrog Ads


Mothers Against Drunk Driving demanded Friday that Anheuser-Busch pull its Budweiser TV commercials featuring bullfrog characters, calling them the “Joe Camel” of beer ads. The company flatly refused.

MADD President Katherine Prescott said that the ads target teens and young children. And though MADD wants the entire beer industry to modify its marketing, she said the Budweiser ads were the worst of the bunch--as bad as R.J. Reynolds’ Camel cigarette mascot.

The ads “appeal to kids, not just teenagers, but young kids, and now that they know that, they should take heed: ‘Hey, this looks like a good advertising campaign but it’s targeting the wrong people,’ ” she said.


Prescott, at a news conference, cited an August marketing research survey that found the bullfrog characters were more recognized among youngsters 12-17 than other television characters like the Energizer Bunny and Coca-Cola’s polar bears. Among children 6-11, more than half recognized the bullfrogs. Budweiser was an official sponsor of the Olympic Games in Atlanta.

“This kind of advertising that is so appealing to children must stop,” said Tom Wiesner, 17, who attended the news conference. “We call on Budweiser to take this dangerous ad campaign off the air now.”

Anheuser-Busch responded with its own news conference immediately after and just a few doors away from MADD’s, telling reporters the company sees no reason to halt the ad campaign.

“We’re not going to pull the frog campaign,” said John Dougherty, senior manager of Anheuser-Busch’s Consumer and Awareness Education division.

“A 30-second beer ad does not compel an 18-year-old to leap off the sofa and go out and . . . start drinking illegally. A beer ad doesn’t have that kind of power,” he said.

Dougherty said the company has spent about $160 million during the past 15 years on programs to fight alcohol abuse and underage drinking.


Anheuser-Busch agrees with MADD on many fronts, he said, but when it comes to advertising, they must “agree to disagree.”

Dougherty said parents discussing alcohol with their children, rather than blaming television advertising, is one way to help stop underage drinking.