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MADD Takes on Alcohol Ads


January 1995

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has found a new target in its campaign for more responsible alcohol use -- advertisers (Jay Mathews, "MADD Against Ads: Widening a Crusade," Washington Post, Dec. 14, 1994, p. F1).

The organization's board approved a statement and guidelines for those who advertise alcoholic beverages on television. The guidelines were drafted in response to the barrage of television ads around Halloween. The plan states that alcohol advertisers should not "use celebrities, music stars, athletes, animals, cartoon characters or other language or images that have special appeal to youth."

Alcohol advertisers respond that while their ads carry some of these features, they are aimed at adults, not at youth. The industry currently follows a self-imposed ban on using currently-active professional athletes in their ads.

For MADD, this is the first time in the organization's 14 years that it has taken on advertising. MADD has often been noted as one of the primary forces behind the dramatic drop in the number of alcohol-related traffic fatalities -- 31 percent between 1982 and 1993.

MADD is also lending its support to a bill in Congress, the Sensible Advertising and Family Education Act, which would require warning labels on televised alcohol advertisements. S. 674 was sponsored last year by Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) and the House companion bill, H.R. 1823 was sponsored by Rep. Joseph Kennedy (D-MA). While no action was taken on the bills in the last Congress, Rep. Kennedy wants to reintroduce his bill in the 104th session.