Brewer reformulates drink after Sparks fly


MillerCoors has decided to take the caffeine out of its relatively new beverage Sparks, which also contains alcohol, after arousing massive complaints about encouraging youthful binge drinking and DUI episodes. A group of state AGs and other watchdogs were able to come to an agreement with MillerCoors. They objected to the marketing of the beverage, which emphasized its “supposed energizing effects.” Watchdogs said it could mask the effects of the alcohol without doing a thing to diminish the alcohol’s debilitating effects, particularly when it comes to motor skills, not to mention motor-operating skills.

Public interest groups have had flavored drinks in the same general alcohol content class as been in their crosshairs for some time. Labeled alcopops or malternatives, watchdogs say they are often specifically targeted at young drinkers, and that their sweet flavors often lead to overconsumption.

RBR/TVBR observation: Tobacco advertising has long been banned from the airwaves. Alcohol has not suffered the same fate, but there is always a constituency out there that would love to do so if given half an opportunity. Beverage companies recognize this and have always made an effort at self-regulating to make sure only mature audiences see advertising, and that is targeted to of-age consumers. We strongly recommend effective and sincere self-regulation, because we do not want Washington sticking its nose in here.