Photo: Courtesy of Red Stripe.
Those ubiquitous little stubbies of Red Stripe are getting a sweeter-tasting cousin. According to The Gleaner, the Jamaican beer company announced Friday that it will be rolling out a new raspberry-flavored beverage, called Red Stripe Burst. It's geared toward the 18-24-year-old market — the legal drinking age there is 18 — as an alternative to the company's standard lager.
Because the label is red and pink, and because Red Stripe brand manager Erin Mitchell remarked that the company hopes that Burst "will have crossover appeal" for both genders, industry watchdog Alcohol Justice claims that Red Stripe is clearly targeting impressionable young women. Bruce Lee Livingston, the executive director and CEO of Alcohol Justice, said in a statement that these kinds of "alcopops" are "designed as 'cocktails on training wheels,' sweet and fruity, to lure underage youth into unhealthy drinking behaviors, especially underage girls."
This is hardly new territory for the alcohol industry, though. What makes a 4.7% ABV raspberry drink (the same ABV as regular Red Stripe) more insidious than a 5% Mike's Hard Lemonade or Smirnoff Ice? Because it's pink? For ladies?
That's the thing — it's equally insidious. Perhaps Red Stripe and its parent company Diageo are attempting to gender Burst in the same way that Nuvo and Qream were targeted toward women, but the real problem is, as Livingstone also points out, youth-targeted alcohol advertising. Alcohol continues to contribute to a staggering 2.5 million deaths per year globally, and is the third leading risk factor for premature death. Brands shouldn't package alcohol as candy for any age. We're looking at you, whipped cream-flavored vodka. (Grub Street)