2014 Brandcameo Product Placement Awards

brands under fire

Four Loko, Colt 45 Blast & Hi-Alc Party Drinks Play Defense

Posted by Abe Sauer on July 26, 2011 05:00 PM

A little bit of the heat is off Four Loko as lawmakers are now focused on Pabst/Colt 45 Blast, a new energized, high alcohol content 23.5 ounce beverage that is equivalent to quaffing about five beers.

While Four Loko became a video favorite without celebrity endorsements, Blast launched in April with a high-profile partner out of the gate in Snoop Dog. An alderman and a youth group are already trying to curb sales of the beverage on Milwaukee, WI.

In Durham, NC, activists have made it a racial issue, with one minister telling the press, "They’re trying to commit genocide on the hip hop generation; their bus is really a gas chamber on wheels."

Is it all over for these mind-erasing party drinks? Maybe not.

Pabst's Blast drink, which is a sub brand of Colt 45, has already seen nothing but trouble thanks to the increased pressure on such drinks brought by Four Loko's bad press as "blackout in a can," which led to its being pulled from store shelves and duly reformulated.

In April, in The New York Times, one of the brand's reps defended the beverage, saying, "All we were doing was putting together flavors that were appealing to people that definitely are over the legal age. We’re going to do our very best to hammer home the message of responsible drinking… We’re not going to be showing up and selling this at schools or anything like that.”

They don't need to sell them at schools because teens, it seems, already know where to get them. An American Medical Association study found that 82% of teen girls who have sampled the high-alcohol carbonated drinks prefer them to alternatives, with a third of those believing they contained the same amount of alcohol as beer.

Creating even more pressure, many states are moving to ban such drinks. In July, the California State Assembly approved legislation that bans the import, production, distribution or retail of caffeinated alcohol drinks. This leaves the door open for high-alcohol drinks that are free of caffeine.

Blast faces a now flooded market, in some cases to an absurd level.

CJ Crunk, a premium, flavored malt beverage has been bragging that it "wowed taste testers alike with its superior flavor over industry competitor Four Loko." One of the taste tests a release pignuts to is by the blog A History of Drinking." Their glowing praise?

"As the least-inebriated team member, I was impressed by the rapidity with which this stuff took effect. The sips I tried all tasted similar, but within minutes the team was noticing subtle nuances that I’m not sure existed. And the apps Greg provided were killed in no time – proving once and for all that nothing goes with not-for-kids grape flavored liquor like crudites and pigs in a blanket."

For its part, Four Loko slogs forward to improve its image, even while it faces continued lawsuits over wrongful deaths. In a preposterous June 30th press release, Phusion Products, makers of the reformulated (caffeine-, guarana- and taurine-free) Four Loko, announced their first first public affairs initiative: "Phusion Projects Employees Volunteer at Los Angeles Regional Food Bank."

Then again, maybe Four Loko, Blast, CJ Crunk and others have nothing to fear. As the New York Times-partnered blog "The Local" reported on July 22nd, several versions of old-formula Four Loko are still widely available in New York — despite an agreement from November 2010 that they would no longer be sold.

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