Celebrities boost alcohol sales when they lend their face to a particular brand. When parents make 2 steps forward the media takes them five steps back.
Celebrity endorsement of alcohol undermines all the effort and education parents have invested in their children to ensure they are aware of the dangers of alcohol abuse. The negative effects outweigh the positive when all you need to do is turn on the TV or read the news at any given moment to see a random celebrity stumbling out of a club incoherent, getting a DUI, beating up someone and making other poor choices at the effect of the overuse of alcohol. What kind of an impression do they leave on the impressionable mind of a teenager and young adult?
When his favorite hip-hop artist pushes his personal brand of vodka, or her much-loved actress advocates for a fruity, skinny cocktail, what’s a kid to do? Drink, most likely. And how does a parent navigate the 2 steps forward they’ve made with the 5 steps back the media takes from them when they seek to glorify a life enhanced by alcohol?
The following are a list of celebrities who are using their fame to endorse the sale of alcohol. Some are not only endorsing but are investing their money as well.
- The boy band Hanson is soon to release their personal brand of beer.
- Sean “P. Diddy” Coombs is in a 50/50 split with Diageo, maker of Ciroc vodka (At the end of 2010, Ciroc sales were at $8.8 million, up 71 percent).
- Willie Nelson endorses Old Whiskey River Bourbon. With each small batch of Whiskey comes an autographed guitar pick.
- Dan Aykroyd represents Crystal Head Vodka, one of the purest vodkas on the market because it is triple distilled through Herkimer Diamonds and has no additives.
- Sammy Hagar owned Cabo Wabo Tequilla, until he sold his shares for over $90 million.
- Ludacris teamed up with a spirits producer to create the handcrafted Conjure Cognac.
- Marilyn Manson developed a brand of absinthe (which is still illegal in the U.S. because of its hallucinogenic effects). Manson himself offered the original batch with an exclusive hand-painted watercolor label.
- Fashion icon, Roberto Cavalli, crafted an Italian vodka, which sells for $60.
- Danny DeVito’s Premium Limoncello has a scratch and sniff label and DeVito himself sings the brand’s theme song
- Justin Timberlake makes blue agave tequila he calls 901 Silver Tequilla, named after his hometown’s area code.
- Donald Trump’s Super Premium Vodka didn’t last long and went bust when it did not meet threshold requirements.
- Vince Neil from Motley Crew founded Tres Rios Tequilla and is in competition with Sammy Hagar’s tequila.
- Lil John, the “crunk” rapper has a line of private label wines.
- Pharrell Williams has cream vodkas marketed towards women in strawberry and peach cream flavors.
- Bethenny Frankel is famous for her Skinny Girl Cocktails including low-calorie margarita and sangria mixes.
- Francis Ford Coppola produces nine different variations of wine.
- Ming Yao has Yao Family Wines, high-end wines for the Asian market, available in the U.S. at an unknown date.
- Leonardo di Caprio reps Jim Beam Whiskey (airing only in Japan).
- Will Ferrell endorses Bud Light.
- Dave Matthews teamed up with winemaker Steve Reeder to launch a line of wines called The Dreaming Tree.
- George Clooney has jumped on the tequila train with Casamigos.
- Drew Barrymore has a personal brand of Pinot Grigio wine.
- Billy Dee Williams advocates Colt 45.
- Ice T has introduced his Original Gangster XO Brandy.
- Zach Galifianakis made a short film for Absolut Vodka.
- Mila Kunis is helping Jim Beam brand a “strong woman” campaign.
The above is a long list and I’m sure there are others of whom I am unaware. This list does not include the myriad of ways the media portrays liquor and drinking in television shows, music and movies – our culture is saturated with images of alcohol.
Israel has banned advertisements by celebrities endorsing alcohol in an attempt to minimize the influences it would have over young people’s naive attitudes towards alcohol. Is it right to censor the images we do not want the public to see and only allow images designed to curb alcohol consumption? I do not believe so. Vilifying celebrities or alcohol companies for attempting to boost sales puts us in the positions of being finger pointers who look at outside sources to do our jobs for us. Blaming the media on the ever-increasing alcohol problem among youth is a distraction from the solution. Parents need education. Families who demonstrate healthy drinking habits at home, clear boundaries (for social media and television as well as drug and alcohol guidelines) and consistent consequences when family guidelines are ignored will have a much needed head start handling possible alcohol and drug abuse in their children.
Do celebrities have a moral obligation to refuse advertising for liquor companies? I don’t think so. If you don’t like what you see, don’t turn it on. If you are disappointed in a celebrity, boycott their movies. What you choose to spend your money on speaks louder than endless complaining and blaming.