The print. (Oregon City, Oregon) 1977-1989, June 01, 1988, Final Edition, Image 13

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    MADD vs. SPUDS debate speech
h author
A couple of months ago I
was thumbing through a
magazine, when a particular
page caught my eye. There
on the page relaxing in a
director’s chair, wearing a
tuxedo, was an ugly white
dog with one black ring
around its eye. It took me a
minute to realize that this
was Spuds MacKenzie.
Spuds MacKenzie is the
“original party animal” that
Busch’s Bud Light beer. At
the time, I didn’t know very
much about Spuds MacKen­
zie, just a few things my little
girls told me like they think
he’s cute and they like his
commercials. I had also
heard some rumors like the
“original” Spuds MacKenzie
is dead, and the new Spuds
MacKenzie is really a female
dog that just had puppies.
But the rumor that concern­
ed me the most was that
Mothers Against Drunk
Drivers (MADD) want
Anheuser Busch to stop us­
ing Spuds MacKenzie to pro­
mote Bud Light. Apparently,
MADD thinks there is a
subliminal message behind
Spuds MacKenzie that is
making young people think
it is okay to drink. From the
October, 1987 issue of Peo­
ple’s Magazine, MADD urg­
ed Anheuser Busch to take a
look at the effect Spuds
MacKenzie is having on our
children. Okay, so you are
probably saying to yourself,
“He looks so harmless.”
Well, I thought so too. I
thought, how could such an
ugly dog have a subliminal
effect on anybody? At first I
didn’t know whose side to
be on, but then I did some
research and my answer
became very clear quickly. I
think you will agree with me
once you know more about
Spuds MacKenzie, what
children and adults think of
him, and the effects he has
on children. Anheuser
Busch always creates a great
atmosphere around Spuds
MacKenzie. They always
show him all dressed up,
gorgeous girls on both arms,
lots of popularity, and
always in the best night
clubs. The problem with the
scenario is that Anheuser
Busch needs to show the
other side of drinking. We
never see Spuds MacKenzie
in sleazy bars, laying on the
floor drunk out of his mind
wondering where his next
beer is going to come from.
Of course not, because I
think if our young people
clearly understood what can
happen when you drink, a
lot of them would choose not
to drink.
Several months ago, I
spoke with Sandy Gilman
from the Northwest chapter
of MADD, and she had this
to say: “The problem with
Anheuser Busch is they
don’t show the other side of
glamorize the night club
scene for young people.”
She also mentioned that
children can become ad­
dicted to drugs and alcohol
faster than an adult.
After I learned more about
the discord going on bet­
ween MADD and Anheuser
Busch, I decided to do some
research and find out just
what young people think
about Spuds MacKenzie. I
decided to visit two grade
schools, and survey 132
children between the ages
of 7 and 14. What I wanted to
find out was: 1. Do they
know who Spuds MacKenzie
is? 2. What product he
represents? 3. Would they
use the product? The results
were astounding! Out of the
132 children, 108 of them
knew who Spuds MacKenzie
was (no surprise). But out of
the 108 children who knew
who Spuds MacKenzie was,
47 of them said they would
use Bud Light beer. Three of
them admitted to having
already drank it. My guess is
that at the 11 to 14 age that
the number is higher, but
they didn’t want to admit it.
What I think told the whole
story though was just being
in the room with the
children to see how they
reacted. When I first walked
into the classrooms, nobody
was really interested in the
feet that I was doing a survey
until I said Spuds MacKen-
zie’s name. After that, their
faces lit up. Everyone
wanted to tell me what they
thought. A lot of the seventh
and eighth graders referred
to Spuds MacKenzie as a
“real cool dude, real
popular.” A seventh grade
girl came up to me and said,
“I hope you’re not here to
tell me to stop wearing my
Spuds MacKenzie t-shirt,
because when I wear it I feel
real popular.” A third grade
boy stood up in the
classroom and said, “My
dad’s a bud man, and I’m go­
ing to be a bud man when I
grow up.” Well, score
another one for Spuds
I also randomly asked col­
lege students if they knew
who Spuds MacKenzie was.
I would like to share some of
their reactions with you.
One student thought he was
a basketball player, while
another thought he was a
newscaster, and yet another
student I asked thought he
was a wrestler. So I wonder,
how do we rationalize the
fact that when so many
adults don’t know who
Spuds MacKenzie is that so
many young people do? Is it
because we are at a consen­
ting age . so the ^subliminal
suggestion to drink is lost on
us? The problem is though,
what about young people?
They are at their most im­
pressionable age now. The
biggest surprise in my
research occurred when I
was working with my
daughter, Morgan, who is
nine years old. I pride
myself on the fact that I
monitor her television view­
ing very carefully. I was real­
ly surprised when I asked
her who Spuds MacKenzie
was she could not only tell
me, she could describe the
commercials. The only time
I don’t watch television with
Morgan is during after
school specials and Satur­
day cartoons. So I asked her,
“when are you seeing these
commercials?” You guess­
ed it, during after school
specials. A couple of Satur­
days ago, Morgan came to
me at 10:00 in the morning to
tell me she had just seen a
Spuds MacKenzie commer­
cial on during the Flint­
stones. We are talking about
prime time t.v. for children.
There is no reason for
Anheuser Busch to advertise
during prime time t.v. view­
ing for children. This is plan­
ned media programming by
Anheuser Busch to get our
children to think about beer
and drinking at an early age.
You know whit I'm upset
about, and you should be too.
There are plenty of other
hours in the day for
Anheuser Busch to advertise
other than prime time t.v. for
children. While working
with young people helped
me gain valuable informa­
tion, going shopping also
benefited my research. I
wanted to see how else
Anheuser Busch was adver­
tising Spuds MacKenzie
other than the commercials.
I was in luck the week I went
because two large depart­
ment stores were having
Spuds MacKenzie week. I
got to see all kinds of things
like key chains, posters,
t-shirts, puzzles, earrings,
and mirrors. You know, all of
the types of things adults
buy for themselves. So, I
decided to buy some of the
Spuds MacKenzie items for
myself. But as I was getting
closer to the cash register, I
began to feel uncomfortable
about buying anything with
Spuds MacKenzie’s face on
it. I explained how I felt to
the sales lady. She told me
that the stores get the Spuds
MacKenzie t-shirts in by the
hundreds, and sell them that
way, and it’s not adults buy­
ing them. What about those
stuffed Spuds MacKenzie
dogs, they sure are cute
don’t you think? When was
the last time you saw an
adult buy a stuffed Spuds
From the October, 1987
issue of People’s Magazine,
William McCord, Executive
Director of the South
Carolina Commission on
Alcohol Abuse had this to
say, “I can’t believe
Anheuser Busch has the
audacity to say those stuffed
Spuds MacKenzie dogs are
not for children. It’s an insult
to the intelligence of the
American people.’’ I
couldn’t agree more. Some
people argue that in ten
years young people will not
remember spuds MacKen­
zie. That’s like saying they
won’t remember reading,
writing, and arithmetic—
they will. A good example of
this is: McDonald’s, Burger
King, and Wendy’s. When
you ask young people
where they want to go- to
have a hamburger, they
won’t say the local cafe.
They will probably say they
want to see Ronald
McDonald, Hamburgler, or
Wendy. As long as
Anheuser Busch is allowed
to use Spuds MacKenzie to
draw young people’s atten­
tion to beer, there will be a
subliminal message. This is
overt manipulation by
Anheuser Busch to get
young people to drink, and
it is a fact that we all need to
Now that you Know more
about Spuds MacKenzie,
what children and adults
think of him, and how affects
children, I think we need to
urge Anheuser Busch to ad­
mit a fault and stop using
Spuds MacKenzie to adver­
tise Bud Light beer. Some of
the schools in the area have
disallowed students to wear
Spuds MacKenzie t-shirts.
This is a start. As adults
though, there are a few
things we can all do: 1. Don’t
buy t-shirts or anything else
that has Spuds MacKenzie
on it for children, because
it’s not for children. 2. If you
are in the room with young
people and a Spuds
MacKenzie commercial
comes on, turn it off. Monitor
television very carefully. 3.
Be aware of advertising cam­
paigns like Spuds MacKen­
zie, while seemingly
harmless they are leading
our children down the
wrong path. In conclusion, I
would like to say that I am
not here to tell you not to
drink, that is your own
choice. I’m just asking that
we let children grow up
messages that make them
think it’s okay to drink so
they can make a decir
choice whether to drink or
not. I would like to leave you
with one last thought, “If
Spuds MacKenzie were a
democratic presidential
candidate today, he would
ne out ot the race by now.”
by Beth Magionos