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Sep 2, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Posted Monday, Sept. 2

Boston Beer pulls ad; Augusta National pulls sponsors

In Boston, a prominent beer manufacturer accused of promoting underage drinking has pulled a controversial TV spot, while in Augusta, Ga., Augusta National, the prestigious golf club that hosts the televised Masters golf tournament, has announced that it will drop three prominent tournament sponsors and forego the potential income, rather than be pressured into admitting women to the all-male private club’s membership.

Those separate, unrelated incidents over the Labor Day weekend illustrate the potential public-interest pitfalls awaiting television advertisers and sponsors. Details follow:

The Boston Beer Co. has pulled a television spot entitled “Noise” following complaints that it implied underage drinking.

The spot, which shows young people hiding their beer from police investigating a noise complaint, was pulled after the National Liquor Law Enforcement Association and other organizations went public with their protests, contending that the people depicted in the ad would not have hidden the beer unless they were below legal drinking age.

“We take this complaint very seriously and we’ve pulled the spot for September,” Martin Roper, Boston Beer CEO, told the Associated Press. “We are reviewing edits and other changes that would address their concerns.”

The ad, which in the past year has aired 119 times during episodes of “The Simpsons,” according to the AP report, was pulled the same day the company ran ads in Boston newspapers apologizing for sponsoring the New York City radio station contest in which a couple allegedly had sex in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The outrage that greeted that stunt led to the firings of “Opie and Anthony,” the two so-called radio shock jocks.

Meanwhile, in the second weekend incident, CBS has said that it will continue to air the Masters, golf’s single highest-rated tournament, despite the possibility of protests at the event from women’s groups.

That possibility arises now that the private Augusta National golf club has responded to the women’s groups’ protests against its alleged exclusionary policy by dropping Citigroup, Coca-Cola and IBM as sponsors and saying that the tournament would air without commercials. Although women play at the club, it has never had a female member, according to an AP report. The club’s chairman has denied that it has any exclusionary policies.