-- Maybe Anheuser-Busch doesn't know when to say when.
That, at least, is what critics say about its drink-in-moderation ad campaign that turns 30 this year. A-B, maker of Budweiser, is celebrating the campaign's fourth decade with a new website promoting responsible drinking.
Today Anheuser-Busch InBev releases "Nation of Responsible Drinkers," the new website and ad campaign to celebrate the 30th birthday of "Know When to Say When," the first ad of its kind made by an alcohol producer. But critics say the beer maker is having its cake and eating it too. "They keep saying 'drink responsibly,' but the operative word is 'drink,' " says Michael Scippa of Alcohol Justice, an alcohol watchdog group.
A-B's new website features a pledge of responsible drinking, and a map of everyone who's signed it.
"You take the pledge and on this website, you will literally be able to drop yourself onto the map of responsible drinkers," says Kathy Casso, Anheuser-Busch VP Corporate Social Responsibility.
The move comes at a time when the big beer makers — except their craft beer brands — have seen substantial sales declines. Since 1982, the year "Know when to say when" was born, drunken driving deaths have plummeted 52%, according to a University of Michigan study.
But alcohol-safety groups cry foul, saying alcohol makers take credit where it isn't due.
MADD President Jan Withers says ad campaigns like "Nation of Responsible Drinkers" and "Know When to Say When" are not among the most proven efforts to reduce drunken driving. High visibility of law enforcement, sobriety checkpoints and alcohol ignition locks are "the three things that are most effective," she says. "I'm sure Anheuser-Busch doesn't want people to drive drunk, but I'd like to see statistics that prove that their campaign works."
And does A-B have statistics? "We can't pinpoint it exactly," says Casso on their ads' effectiveness, but "we know American adults think it's a good thing to promote things like having a designated driver."