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Originally published August 31, 2009 at 02:42p.m., updated August 31, 2009 at 05:17p.m.

Crimson and blue Bud Light cans make appearance on Lawrence liquor store shelves

Bud Light is selling special edition cans of beer in Kansas University colors. The beer is only sold in a 24 pack, which also features the colors of KU.

Bud Light is selling special edition cans of beer in Kansas University colors. The beer is only sold in a 24 pack, which also features the colors of KU.

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KU-colored beer cans anger university officials

Crimson and blue Bud Light beer cans have KU officials seeing red.

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Would a special beer can with Kansas University colors make you more likely to buy the beer?

  • Yes 28% 401 votes
  • No 71% 1024 votes

1425 total votes.

Crimson and blue Bud Light cans on the shelves of Lawrence liquor stores have Kansas University officials seeing red.

Anheuser-Busch InBev has been marketing Bud Light “Fan Cans” — special beer cans distributed in the colors of major universities — in college communities across the nation, but many schools have complained.

Add KU to that list, said Jim Marchiony, associate athletics director, who said that KU wrote to A-B about three weeks ago to try to prevent the cans from appearing in Lawrence.

“We wrote to Anheuser-Busch requesting that they not move forward with that project,” Marchiony said. “I think the major issue is that it appeals to what we think is a large number of underage drinkers. We think that’s a mistake on Anheuser-Busch’s part.”

Though the use of color alone does not violate any licensing regulations, Marchiony said the school was concerned with the use of the red and blue colors as it may indicate to someone that the school was somehow involved in the promotion.

However, he said that issue was secondary to the school’s concern that the cans promoted underage drinking, Marchiony said.

Marchiony said KU continues to look into the issue, and is also in the middle of discussions on how to address it on a local level. He said he had seen that the beer company was going to honor the requests of institutions that elected to not be a part of the marketing effort.

“I think that Anheuser-Busch will respect our wishes, and we’ll talk to them,” he said.

Kansas State officials say they won't join the protest. Pat Bosco, dean of student life, says the university would object if the cans carried a Kansas State logo or picture. But he says the university "doesn't have a trademark" on the colors purple and white.

Mike Strano, manager at the Cork & Barrel near 23rd and Iowa streets, said the store got a shipment of the new blue-and-red cans on Friday.

He said, however, he didn’t anticipate that the cans would be around for very long, referencing the national response he’s seen on the issue.

Strano said he didn’t notice any uptick in sales directly tied to the beer cans.

“It’s football season,” he said. “I don’t think that it’s necessarily helping their sales.”

Kevin O’Malley, owner of the local Bud Light distributor O’Malley Beverage of Kansas, directed all questions on the promotion to A-B InBev’s corporate offices.

In a written statement, Carol Clark, Anheuser-Busch vice president of corporate social responsibility, said the marketing plan was timed with the start of the football season and baseball playoffs.

She said the cans, available in a number of color schemes, were intended to connect with fans of legal drinking age, and carry no logos, names or other proprietary identifiers.

“We place great value in the relationships we’ve built with college administrators and campus communities across the country,” Clark wrote. “Certain cans are not being made available in communities where organizations had asked us not to offer them.”

She said the program was made available to wholesalers nationwide, and about half decided to participate.

KU has implemented a number of policy changes since the alcohol-related deaths of two students last semester.

One such policy requires all new students to take an online alcohol education course. Monday was the first day students could log on and take the class.

Comments

Gavin Fritton 10 years, 9 months ago

“The licensing issue is, in our minds, secondary to the other issue,” of promoting underage drinking, Marchiony said.

Riiiigggghhhhttt. KUAC is more concerned about underage drinking than it is about its trademarks, even though it doesn't own any trademarks for those colors. I'm sure the owners of Joe College would agree thatKU is just concerned about what's best for the fans. Becuase if the KUAC was really concerned about underage drinking, they wouldn't allow it on school property at tailgate parties on football Saturdays, would they. And KU would NEVER try to charge a fee from tailgaters who want to drink alcohol during a tailgate party, would they? And KU surely realizes that about half of the KU student population is legally old enough to drink, aren't they?

Yesiree, I have no doubts at all that KU's motives in trying to stop InBev from doing this are as pure as John Calipari.

KANSTUCKY 10 years, 9 months ago

Send them to Kentucky. The cans, that is.

judy_jayhawk 10 years, 9 months ago

They sell BOTH Crimson and Blue disposable cups at Price Chopper....Do you think KU athletics is getting a piece of the action?

sdoyel 10 years, 9 months ago

Can we at least get a picture of the can?

Sean O'Grady 10 years, 9 months ago

If they really wanted to target fans, they should have made the can a size that's easier to sneak into Memorial Stadium....

Joel Hood 10 years, 9 months ago

I think it is a good idea for KUAC to challenge any marketing strategy that uses KU colors in an attempt to directly or indirectly link a product to KU. If Anheuser-Busch is making increased sales by indirectly linking themselves to KU, why shouldn’t KU get some of the revenue? The underage drinking thing is a red herring. Marchiony doesn’t give one hoot about that – it’s all about someone else making money in the KU market, by using symbols of KU.

Can KU trademark colors?? No, but would it be OK for AB to sell purple beer cans strictly in Manhattan KS or the K-State marketing area? Would the Chiefs complain if AB sold Red & Gold cans only in the KC market and somehow tied the special cans to Sunday football in KC?

Of course colors cannot be trademarked, but there can be violations in the overall marketing strategy. If AB wants to associate itself with KU, they should pay KU for the right to do so.

Scott Smetana 10 years, 9 months ago

Marchiany, get real. NObody believes the underage drinking excuse. Give us some credit, we're smarter than that. Colors can't be trademarked. Here's what KU should do, but won't... Let the beer companies use the full logo and charge them. It's a win for everybody.

Shelly Harshaw 10 years, 9 months ago

Last time I checked my Bud Light can the colors were red and blue! Get over it Lew.

Ryan Wood 10 years, 9 months ago

It's the same can, with a couple of red stripes around it. I hope this doesn't cause my 9-year old to pound beer like his old man.

Dirk Medema 10 years, 9 months ago

"KU has implemented a number of policy changes since the alcohol-related deaths of two students last semester."

Sure, the drunks in admin could care less about underaged drinking. No one should care if KU gets a reputation for a lethal party school right? All publicity is good publicity, right?

Granted, the cans look rather normal color wise. I can see there being more concerns in towns like Columbia, Manhattan, Champagne-Urbana, etc. It still seems pretty reasonable to take a stand with the other universities.

It sounds right in line with PD's across the country taking a very hardline approach to DUI's including check points. It has nothing to do with drinking responsibly, and doesn't guarentee that people are not going to drink irresponsibly, but it is good to take a stand for what is good. I'm guessing there are at least 2 KU families that appreciate it and wish more would have happened sooner.

Rock Chalk

jayhawkintexas 10 years, 9 months ago

This one falls under the "get a life" heading. The cans don't promote underage drinking and as long as a Jayhawk or the word "Jayhawks" aren't on it, I don't care. Personally, I wish it was Coors Light instead of Bud Light then I would buy the beer.

Scott Smetana 10 years, 9 months ago

Nice call TX.... Coors Light (the REAL american beer) is much better. The Crimson and Blue Bullet can would be money!

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 9 months ago

Personally I wish it was just a good beer. Not only do Bud and Coors suck they are both owned by foreign companies. Bud is owned by a Belgian company and Coors is owned by Molson (Canadian).

KGphoto 10 years, 9 months ago

What?

New Belgian sponsors competitive biking events across the nation. My own family rides under that name. Guess what? New Belgium's colors are crimson and blue.

I better send my father, sister and the underprivileged kids/cancer/diabetes benefactors under the bus because they are obviously promoting drunkin' debauchery.

KU relies on beer. Can you imagine a pre-game in Lawrence without beer? I mean entirely without it? It would be sad. Beer isn't the problem. Ignorance is. Responsible people can responsibly drink. We don't have to sew up yet another freedom in the name of a few irresponsible dolts.

Jim pull your head out.

Jeff Schartz 10 years, 9 months ago

There is currently a rumor going around that Budweiser is thinking about using beautiful women in bikinis to promote the sale of their alcoholic beverages. We better try to stop this kind of nonsense now!

ku_tailg8 10 years, 9 months ago

if they really wanted to appeal to students they would make crimson and blue Naty Light cans. Had they just introduced these cans without mentioning they were team cans I would say it looks just like an updated Bud Light can. Same colors. Now a purple Bud Light can would obviously draw more attention as being a team can for kstaters. I can see the argument here but then again they are just colors.

Sean O'Grady 10 years, 9 months ago

Coors is owned by MillerCoors, which is a subsidary of SABMiller (South African Breweries). The largest American owned brewery is the Boston Beer Company which owns the Sam Adams family of beers.

Maybe Sam Adams should come out with a John Brown series of brews, utilizing local wheat from KS. I'd drink that.

K_Easthouse 10 years, 9 months ago

I'm with Boulder on this one. You can't copyright colors and it would set a horrible precedent if this went to court. However, I would prefer a better beer than Bud Light. How about our local Free State brews?

Ryan Gerstner 10 years, 9 months ago

Yeah, I'm not really a Bud Light fan, but crimson and blue cans might actually get me to pick some up. Would be great for any KU themed party and we're going to be having them all fall.

JayCeph 10 years, 9 months ago

KGphoto... spot on. The most cogent post in this string.

Brian Skelly 10 years, 9 months ago

The KU hierarchy are just pissed there's not really a way for them to get a cut of the action. "Red and Blue" cans make not a copyright or trademarked KU item. Thats what this (and any other stink about it) is. Thats really all any of these schools are irked about.

This basic and simple marketing. And the fact that ADs and U Presidents all over the country are making a stink about it only helps them.

Michael Auchard 10 years, 9 months ago

Pretty sure none of the major macrobrews in this country can be called " the REAL American beer" since they're all owned by foreign investors now. Closest thing to a major American brewer now is Sam Adams. Anyway, just go get a growler at Freestate or the incredibly cheap (and better) beer out at 23rd Street Brewery and ignore this watered down issue and beer.

Joel Hood 10 years, 9 months ago

I’m really not sure what is so hard to understand about this whole situation. It really is a win-win for everyone, except the competitors of Bud Light.

KU, as a whole, needs to demonstrate a concern for underage drinking because of tragic events that recently occurred. AB has given them a good opportunity to make a statement (not that mafia Jim gives a hoot about underage drinking) that KU does not condone excessive and/or underage drinking. No one forced KU to make a public statement about this – why else make a public statement, except for the publicity.

KUAC needs to make a public statement to defend its right to the red and blue trademark in the context of marketing KU. As I understand trademarks, they must be continually defended or other bodies can infringe upon them without recourse (someone correct me if I am wrong on this point.) KUAC has now done this publicly, which is necessary in case someone else infringes upon the KU trademark in a similar or more egregious manner.

AB wants to sell more Bud Light. Mission accomplished!!! All the publicity over this “controversy” is free advertising for AB. We will likely see the outskirts of Memorial Stadium covered in Crimson and Blue Bud Light (blech – I’m personally a quality over quantity guy) cans on Saturday.

Am I missing anything here???

Rick Arnoldy 10 years, 9 months ago

Those cans are just plain ugly.

Beyond that, jayhawkerjoel has it right. KU (and any trademark owner) has to speak up as a way to continually defend the brand. Otherwise, they lose the rights. That’s just the way it is.

JayCeph 10 years, 9 months ago

We ARE talking about CANS of beer... Bud Light, right?

Mountain? Meet Mole Hill.

Gordon Penny 10 years, 9 months ago

Actually, you can get a trademark on colors. Think Mary Kay pink and Home Depot orange (or whatever color it is). There are several colors that are protected by trademark. The colors have to be distinctive and not run of the mill colors. It is unlikely that KU would be able to get a trademark on crimson and blue because they are not uncommon enough colors.

Dan Pawlowski 10 years, 8 months ago

I was corrected on Coors Ownership Coors-Molsen did merge with Miller. I can't keep track at the speed at which American Mass Breweries are selling out.

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