Questionable Beer Posters Removed from Iowa City Bars at UI Request

By Dave Franzman, Reporter

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By Liz Blood

IOWA CITY, Iowa - A sponsorship arrangement between the University of Iowa and Anheuser-Busch ran into problems this week at some Iowa City bars. The university’s “Tiger Hawk” emblem was placed on Bud Light banners both welcoming back students and advertising happy hour deals.

The university asked the wholesale distributor for Anheuser-Busch in the Iowa City area to remove the posters or promotional material. Bar owners said the distributor removed the items from bars this week.

Anheuser-Busch does pay for the privilege of using the university logo. But the deal was envisioned as a way to promote responsible drinking for a student population. And university spokesperson Tom Moore said the offending posters didn’t pass that test. The approved language on such materials has used the phrase “enjoy responsibly.”

Leah Cohen, owner of Bo James bar in Iowa City said she had one of the posters in question until a sales rep removed it Wednesday. It included the Bud Light logo along with the U of I Tiger Hawk and the message “welcome back students.” Cohen said there is another Bud Light poster on the wall now that also includes the logo. But it hasn’t caused any problems because the only message on it is a University of Iowa 2012 football schedule. Some Iowa City bars did have posters with the beer logo and university symbol and those posters did advertise happy hour specials.

Bo James bartender Magen Krones said she wondered about the Bud Light poster with the “welcome back students” message when it went up.

“I questioned what was the deal with that especially after the controversy with the fan cans,” Krones said.

Cohen said the more she thought about it, the more she wondered about the message too.

“I think it was a mistake to do a poster with the Hawkeye logo and drink specials because we all know that is not the purpose of it,” Cohen said.

University spokesperson Moore said the sponsorship deal with Anheuser-Busch calls for the university to approve any promotional material involving the athletic department logo. However, in the case with the two recent bar posters university officials only saw a preliminary drawing. The university will now need to see and approve final designs of banners and posters before they are distributed.

Some 21 and over students in the Bo James bar on Thursday after wondered why all the fuss.

Chevy Bushaw said “I feel like if you’re of age, what’s the big deal.”

A companion, Julie Dirks, added “I feel like the university is going to extremes trying to combat drinking. After a whole week of studying I would like to go out and enjoy a beer without feeling it’s wrong.”

The flap about bar posters came at about the same time the Princeton Review named the University of Iowa as the nation’s number two party school. U of I officials claimed that ranking was not based on any “scientific” study.

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