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Coors' Zima Raises Rumors Among Teens


March 1995

The Coors Brewing Company is continuing to draw fire for rumors about its newest alcoholic drink, Zima (Jay Mathews, "Controversy Follows Coors's Zima," Washington Post, Feb. 7, 1995, p. D1).

Experts on underage drinking say that Zima is becoming the most popular party beverage among teens because the drink is sweet, smooth, colorless, and is as high in alcohol content as premium beer. Teens say they think that the drink is harder for police and parents to spot than beer or hard liquor. Some teenagers even say that Zima can beat a Breathalyzer test.

Coors admits that Zima may be a problem among underage drinkers, but denies that the drink was marketed to the teen party crowd despite the complaints and accusations of groups in ten states working to curb underage drinking. The company has sent letters to police and school superintendents to tell them that the rumors that Zima can beat the Breathalyzer are false.

To prove that Zima contains alcohol and does show on a Breathalyzer, Takoma Park, Maryland Police Officer Mark Gardner drank several bottles of the beverage and had another officer monitor his blood alcohol. The demonstration was videotaped and was broadcast on local television news programs in May 1994.

According to John Goldman, a spokesperson for Coors Brewing Company, Coors received many complaints and questions about Zima when the product was first introduced in 1994. At that time Coors instituted a public education program about the drink and a promotional campaign to discourage underage drinking. The company distributed T-shirts with the messages "I.D. Pleaze" and "Adult Humanz Only," with the "z" referring to Zima.

Brandy Anderson, a spokesperson for Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), said that MADD has been pressuring Coors to stop using young-looking actors in Zima television commercials. Anderson said that Coors may be targeting underage drinkers as the market for Zima.

[For questions about Coors products, contact the Coors consumer hotline at 1-800-642-6116. For more information about MADD's position on alcohol advertising and promotion, contact MADD at 1-800-438-6223.]