Multinational Monitor

SEP/OCT 2008
VOL 29 No. 2


Biotech Snake Oil: A Quack Cure for Hunger
by Bill Freese

Nuclear's Power Play: Give Us Subsidies or Give Us Death
by Tyson Slocum

Conservation Corp.: Enviros Ally with Big Grain Traders
by Christine MacDonald

The Concession Trap: Auto Worker Givebacks and Labor's Future
by Simone Landon

The Commercial Games: Selling Off the Olympic Ideal
by Jennifer Wedekind


Bad Samaritans: How Rich Country "Help" Hurts the Developing World
an interview with
Ha-Joon Chang

Unhealthy Solutions: Private Insurance, High Costs and the Denial of Care
an interview with
Steffie Woolhandler

Arts, Inc.: The Corporate Control of Culture
an interview with
Bill Ivey


Behind the Lines

The State of Corporate Welfare

The Front
Climate Changing Africa -- African Inequality

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Greed At a Glance

Commercial Alert

Names In the News


Commercial Alert

Bud Goes De-Caf

Responding to pressure from several state Attorneys General and advocacy groups, Anheuser-Busch announced in June it will remove all caffeine, guarana and ginseng from its flavored malt beverages, including Tilt and Bud Extra. The company is calling on its competitors to follow suit.

Prior to Anheuser-Busch’s decision, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) informed Anheuser-Busch of its intentions to file suit against the company for distributing the caffeinated alcohol drinks.

“We are pleased that Anheuser-Busch has agreed to take the caffeine and other stimulants out of its alcoholic drinks, and that it was not necessary to formally proceed with litigation,” says George Hacker, CSPI alcohol policies project director.

“We particularly appreciate the call that Anheuser-Busch is making to distillers and other brewers to likewise reformulate these ill-conceived products.”

During the period of transitioning from caffeinated to non-caffeinated formulas, Anheuser-Busch will take down its Bud Extra website and will permanently remove the Tilt website, replacing it with a new site with a different URL.

Anheuser-Busch also agreed to pay “interested” state attorneys general a combined total of $200,000 “to cover the cost of their review of the documents that we shared with them, and to be used in programs that combat illegal underage drinking in their states,” according to a letter from Anheuser-Busch counsel Russell Jackson to CSPI.

In 2007, Anheuser-Busch pulled its alcoholic energy drink Spyke off shelves after the company received a letter signed by 29 state attorneys general, expressing their concern about the drink.

Hawking to Latinos

With marketers looking to tap into a growing Latino market, ad spending in Spanish-language media rose 3 percent in 2007, reaching $5.78 billion, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The automotive industry led in spending, with $660 million spent on marketing to Latinos. Wireless phone companies boosted their ad spending in Spanish-language media 37 percent in 2007 and invested a total of $313.6 million.

But companies across the board have been looking to increase profits by reaching out to Latino consumers. In July, MasterCard launched an integrated Latino marketing campaign featuring a traditional Lucha Libre wrestler — a type of professional wrestling that first came to popularity in the early 1900s — using his MasterCard to update his style.

“Hispanics comprise the fastest growing population in the U.S. and as a brand it is important for us to develop a genuine connection with them,” Chris Jogis, vice president of U.S. Brand Development for MasterCard Worldwide, told WebWire.

Corona Extra also launched its first campaign geared exclusively toward Latinos, featuring Hispanic music and traditions in celebrations throughout the United States.

A second spot focuses on Hispanic-American athletes competing in baseball, boxing, soccer and running marathons. The tagline for the commercials is “Nuestro Orgullo. Nuestra Cerveza,” which translates to “Our Pride. Our Beer.” Corona Extra increased its spending on Spanish-language TV networks to $5.4 million in 2007, compared with $1.1 million in 2006, according to Nielsen.

Doctoring Drug Ads

In an attempt to appease lawmakers, top drug manufacturers agreed in June to wait six months before advertising new drugs directly to consumers, and will regulate how doctors are used in their ads.

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations initially requested a two-year delay on advertisements to consumers of new drugs in order to prevent a repeat of the Vioxx disaster, which killed between 35,000 and 55,000 people, according to the Food and Drug Administration’s Dr. David Graham.

“Although we appreciate the drug companies’ willingness to change some of their business practices, they have not agreed to all of our requests, which would protect consumers from misleading and deceptive advertising,” says Bart Stupak, D-Michigan, who chairs the subcommittee. Stupak had asked the industry to agree to a series of restraints on consumer ads, most of which the industry rejected.

In letters to the subcommittee, drug companies agreed to follow the American Medical Association’s guidelines on using doctors in commercials.

The guidelines require statements alerting consumers that a doctor in a commercial is being portrayed by an actor. If an actual physician is used, a statement disclosing that the physician received compensation for the ad is required.

The drug companies stopped short of committing to the two-year wait on advertising new drugs, however.

Johnson & Johnson Chair and CEO William Weldon wrote that “Johnson & Johnson does not believe a particular fixed period of time for an advertising moratorium is appropriate in all circumstances.”

The idea behind an ad delay is to observe real-world experience with a medicine — including monitoring short-term side effects or efficacy issues not identified in clinical trials — before permitting manufacturers to market the drug directly to consumers.

— Jennifer Wedekind


Mailing List


Editor's Blog

Archived Issues

Subscribe Online

Donate Online


Send Letter to the Editor

Writers' Guidelines