But we digress. The question we're exploring here concerns one marketer's trick to sell their new hard soda. The marketer is MillerCoors; the soda is Henry's; and the trick is advertising that's all at once, clever, misleading, and illegal.
On one hand, we are impressed that MillerCoors chose a product-distinctiveness-based strategy for Henry's. Rather than relying only on kid-appealing flavors like orange and ginger ale, MillerCoors is aiming to differentiate their soda as... "hard-ish."
Pretty clever to coin a completely new word--and a comparative one at that--to describe alcohol strength.
Henry's ads explain that "hard-ish" is a synonym for "buck mild." And one explains Henry's distinctive alcohol content is "... not too hard because you've got stuff to do tomorrow."
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But Henry's is "tame" relative to what? Certainly not light beer. Henry's sodas carry the very same amount of alcohol as light beer, 4.2%. So, it appears the object of comparison must be... other hard sodas. But ask people how much alcohol is loaded into those root beers and cherry colas, and chances are, all you'll get is a blank stare.
Still, Henry's sure seems to be suggesting its sodas are somehow "low-alcohol." This in spite of the fact they do not meet the "less than 2.5%" federal standard for low-alcohol. (That standard is why light beers never pushed low-alcohol claims.)
Is suggesting that a 4.2% hard soda is low-alcohol--"buck mild," if you will-- misleading?
Of course it is
... and illegal...
Henry's clever alcohol-content descriptors--including "hard-ish"--should never have seen the light of television in the first place. Federal regulations are unambiguous on this...
Limits? What limits?
So, what's to stop MillerCoors--a company nominally committed to "responsible enjoyment of our products"--from further pushing the envelope? Apparently nothing.
The brewer is free, for example, to suggest who should drink their hard-ish sodas. Namely, really responsible parents!
We're not kidding. Take a look...
(And if the kid wakes up, maybe give the little bugger a taste, too!)
How's that for "responsible enjoyment?"