Molson promo challenged by universities

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

TORONTO (CUP) " A contest on Facebook was forced to close early under harsh criticism from university students and administrators.

The contest held by Molson Canada invited students from colleges and universities across the country to post pictures of themselves partying on campus. The school that posted the most pictures would win the title of the number one party school in Canada before judges picked the best picture from that school to win a spring break trip.

The contest did not run as planned.

Students and university administrators spoke out against the contest and Molson pulled the contest after only half of its original three week run.

“I’m disgusted,” said Jason Laker, associate vice-principal and dean of student affairs at Queen’s University, in an interview with the Globe and Mail.

“It is such an apparent and dangerous disregard for the way it promotes an abusive use of alcohol. In order for the photos to be eligible, to be notable, would require outrageous behaviour or profoundly dangerous levels of drinking, and of course the kind of decision making and behaviour that follow that. [Molson is] either unaware of it or simply placing profits above ethics,” he said.

Molson Canada, however, argued it was simply an effort to engage its target market with socially-oriented advertising.

“Our take is that this whole social media realm is new. There’s going to be some experimentation, there’s going to be some learning,” Cynthea Galbraith, a spokesperson for Molson Canada, said.

“I don’t know if surprised is the word, but we learn from these things. Our intention is to become a leader in that area and we’ll go back and develop some new innovations in communications for next time,” Galbraith said. “Social interaction is key with that [demographic], it seems to be all the rage right now.”

David Myers, a fourth-year student at Queen’s University, disagreed with both the approach to marketing and the incentives for people to take part.

“I think it’s stupid and childish to come up with immature reasons to drink for the sake of getting drunk,” he said. “If you want to relax and have a few drinks, fine. But the goal shouldn’t be to get completely trashed so that you do something stupid for the sake of a photo op.”

Jason Poole, a second-year student at Brock University, said he heard about the contest through a Facebook advertisement

“I thought it was kind of silly to have the opinion of a beer company determine where I could be having the most fun. University is what you make of it.

“I don’t need to have thousands of drunk people to have fun.”

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