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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Warning: It Works Every Time; Colt 45 Ads In St. Louis Now Come With A Disclaimer

Posted By on Tue, Jun 30, 2009 at 10:37 AM

Colt 45 may have the single greatest slogan in the history of marketing. Like other stellar ad campaigns ("Got Milk?" "Just Do It" etc.) the malt liquor's catchphrase "Works Every Time," can be applied to virtually any product. 

That toothpaste you're using? Works every time. Condoms? They work every time. (OK, 98 percent of the time according to the box, but you get the drift.)

But what really sets Colt 45's slogan apart is the fact that that they're peddling booze. Think about it-- it's not as if the average alcoholic walks into the liquor store, strolls down the cheapo aisle in search of a forty and thinks, "Hmmm, this Olde English only gets me hammered every once and awhile, I'd better go with Colt instead, I hear that works EVERY time." Or, to think of it another way, imagine if Mickey's marketed themselves as "The inconsistent malt liquor."

No sir, Colt 45 does not beat around the bush: It will get you fall-down drunk every single time. And maybe that's what all the fuss is about.

By now you're probably heard about the minor controversy brewing over Metro's policy regarding warning labels for alcohol ads on St. Louis bus stops. Or rather, its lack of enforcement of said policy.
In November, the transit agency enacted a new policy requiring all beer or liquor promotions to caution about the dangers of drinking while driving or pregnant, and state that consumption by minors is prohibited.

Problem was, when *UPDATED SEE COMMENTS FOR DETAILS a contractor called Wall Decaux inked a deal with Colt 45 on behalf of Metro in early June and 60 local bus stops were plastered with the malt liquor's retro ad campaign (featuring the immortal slogan, and a colorful illustration of Billy Dee Williams aka Lando Calrissian toting a Colt can), the disclaimers were nowhere to be found.

The oversight prompted teetotaling groups like the St. Louis Metropolitan Clergy Association and anti-booze aldermen like Charles Quincy Troupe to raise a stink.

Metro spokeswoman Angela Fletcher-Mabry confirmed that,
The must-have accessory for any Colt 45 drinker - WWW.CMGESTORE.COM
  • The must-have accessory for any Colt 45 drinker
Lately Colt 45 (owned by Pabst Blue Ribbon) has been targeting their product at a new crowd by buying up full-page ads in the hipster rag Vice magazine, but historically the beer is stereotyped as the beverage of choice for poor African-Americans. (Don't tell Billy Dee though--he's "roguishly handsome and infinitely suave")

This aspect alone causes some suspicion when it comes to asking why Colt was the company that caused the controversy.

"St. Louis is such a pro-alcohol, pro-beer town," says artist Jim Mahfood, a St. Louis native who illustrated Colt 45's previous graffiti-inspired ad-campaign. "Who cares about a beer ad? It's just Colt 45 and malt liquor in general has this immediate un-PC connotation of 'That's for people in the ghetto."

But all racial implications aside, one has to wonder: why does a liquor ad on a bus stop have to warn about the dangers of drunk driving?

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