Anheuser-Busch gets Spyked

Last lick, er, look

About a month ago I wrote about Spykes, the controversial line of alcopop beverages from brewing monolith Anheuser-Busch. The colorful, two-ounce buzz-bombs - sweet, flavored, and twelve percent alcohol by volume - were officially marketed towards “adults looking for innovative alcoholic beverages,” but everything about the content and packaging suggested a product designed to attract considerably younger (and specifically female) users. A-B found itself confronted with harsh criticism from such watchdogs as the Center for Science in the Public Interest, who slammed Spykes as “a shameful ploy to market malt liquor to the Lunchables set.” Though A-B may have continued to brazen out such attacks, the brewer soon found itself faced with more opposition in the form of twenty-nine state attorneys general. This from the office of Connecticut AG Richard Blumenthal:

Spykes is double trouble – alcohol and caffeine combined in large doses to create a high energy rush with the illusion of alertness when drinkers are impaired. In its ingredients, Internet messages, flavors of fruit and chocolate and miniature bottles – Spykes flagrantly appeals to youth palates and youth culture. With Spykes marketing and promotion, Anheuser-Busch belies the fight against underage drinking and its own public pitch to ‘drink responsibly.’

Spykes plainly and perniciously appeals to children in both flavor and packaging – and its caffeine content dangerously and falsely masks the effects of alcohol. If Anheuser-Busch wants to be a partner in fighting underage drinking, it must stop pitching its drinks to underage youth.

Under such withering fire, Anheuser-Busch opted to surrender, announcing that it would stop selling the product. The brewer did not exactly do so with a good grace, however.

“Due to its limited volume potential and unfounded criticism, we have ceased production of Spykes,” Michael J. Owens, Anheuser-Busch Cos.’ marketing vice president, said in a statement.

He said Spykes was introduced about two years ago in test markets, and nationwide in January, but had not performed to expectations.

So much for Spykes, then - though the product’s flashy website is, as of this writing, still up and running no more.

A few hours later, it’s vanished from all but our memories. Spykes, we hardly knew ye.


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