Univ. of Iowa Deal with Anheuser-Busch Questioned By Group
By Diane Heldt & Mark Carlson, Reporters
IOWA CITY, Iowa — Allowing use of the University of Iowa’s Tigerhawk logo on some Anheuser-Busch promotional materials sends a mixed message and may lead people to believe the university is promoting the products, some members of a joint university-city group working to combat high-risk alcohol use said Wednesday.
“I just think it’s a bad idea,” Johnson County Attorney Janet Lyness said during the Partnership for Alcohol Safety meeting, wondering if the university would next allow its logo on a pack of cigarettes. “When we’re seeing the University of Iowa associated with beer at Hy-Vee ... it just bothers me.”
Iowa City bar owner Leah Cohen said she’s heard only negative opinions about the contract.
“I can honestly say I have not talked to one person who’s been in favor of this,” Cohen, the owner of Bo-James, said. “I think I agree with most people I talked to, let’s just put it that way.”
The UI for years has had a marketing agreement with Anheuser-Busch, and this most recent contract change is relatively minor, said Tom Rocklin, UI vice president for student life.
UI officials should set parameters now to help gauge “if this was a good or bad decision” when they consider renewing the four-year contract later, College of Public Health Dean Sue Curry, a member of the Partnership for Alcohol Safety, said. The partnership is a group of city leaders, UI officials and students and local business owners.
The university has had a marketing relationship through Hawkeye Sports Properties with Anheuser-Busch for more than 20 years, Rick Klatt, athletics department associate marketing director, said. The change made in this recent contract renewal was to add permission to use the Tigerhawk logo “under very strict circumstances,” Klatt told the group Wednesday.
The Tigerhawk will be printed only on materials, such as signs, banners or mirrors, at the point of sale of the beer, including bars, restaurants and grocery stores, he said. It will always be accompanied by the words “Responsibility Matters,” and UI officials will have approval of every instance of use, Klatt said. Anheuser-Busch in the past had access to the Tigerhawk mark, but that access was taken away about six years ago for a variety of reasons, he said.
This approval process “will be seen by many eyes,” Klatt said.
Rocklin said he thinks the UI has been more clear on its message about alcohol use in recent years. The university does not promote abstinence, he said, but rather responsible use of alcohol, particularly among students. This contract decision was a “close call,” Rocklin said, but he sees the benefit of getting significant funding through the contract for the UI’s Alcohol Harm Reduction initiative. Anheuser-Busch will pay a total of $185,000 over the four-year contract to the Alcohol Harm Reduction program.
Part of Rocklin’s thinking on the matter was that allowing the Tigerhawk use doesn’t seem to make things worse, he said, but the money from the contract has the potential to improve the situation around high-risk drinking in the community. But people’s concerns about it are understandable, Rocklin said.
“I don’t think anybody thought this was an easy decision,” he said.
What’s important is to use the money for campus efforts that have an impact on reducing binge drinking, said Kelly Bender, community harm reduction initiatives coordinator for the Partnership for Alcohol Safety.
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