MADD's Positions on Responsible Marketing and Service

Responsible Serving Practices and Server Training

MADD advocates more widespread implementation of responsible beverage serving practices and training to include instruction of both management and servers for licensed outlets as well as any individuals or organizations who serve alcohol in settings frequented by those under the age of 21. MADD further advocates expanded education on responsible social hosting.

Dram Shop Liability

MADD strongly supports by means of legislation or case law the right of victims of alcohol related traffic crashes to seek financial recovery from establishments and servers who have irresponsibly provided alcohol to those who are intoxicated or to underage persons, or who serve past the point of intoxication individuals who then cause fatal or injurious crashes.

Non-Drinking Designated Driver Programs

Mothers Against Drunk Driving advocates the promotion of non-drinking designated driver programs in both social host settings and licensed establishments, in order to further reinforce a responsible public approach to alcohol use wherever driving may be involved.

Practices Which Encourage Excessive Alcohol Consumption (Happy Hours)

MADD calls upon the hospitality industry to voluntarily end all practices associated with excessive alcohol consumption. MADD also supports state agencies and legislatures which pass clear and comprehensive guidelines which prohibit such practices in all fifty states.

The Responsible Use Of Alcohol

MADD urges that those Americans of drinking age who choose to drink do so in a responsible manner, avoiding any driving after drinking.

Alcohol Warning Labels

MADD has endorsed the concept of requiring warning labels on alcoholic beverages stating that alcohol will impair skills necessary for operation of motor vehicles or heavy machinery. The use of such warnings is consistent with similar warnings on other hazardous substances and will provide a direct opportunity to educate the public concerning the risks involved in alcohol consumption.

Uniform Bar Closing

MADD advocates setting uniform statewide cut off limits on the sale of alcoholic beverages in order to end the practice of "barhopping" to find establishments with later closing hours for "one last drink" with the likelihood of impaired driving as a result.

Responsible Advertising and Marketing Practices

Because of the large consumption of alcohol by underage drinkers and problem drinkers, and because of the role such drinkers play in the problem of impaired driving, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is legitimately concerned about the proliferation of alcohol advertising and the manner in which beverage alcohol products are advertised and otherwise promoted.

MADD makes no distinction among various types of alcohol. A 12 ounce can of regular beer, a 5 ounce glass of wine, a 12 ounce wine cooler, and 1.5 ounces of 80-proof distilled spirits contain the same amount of alcohol. Therefore, MADD strongly believes that all alcohol advertising and marketing should be subject to the same restrictions and standards.

In addition, MADD believes media entities (television, radio, magazines, newspapers, and internet) should establish and/or be held accountable to strong guidelines that will restrict alcohol advertising and marketing from reaching underage audiences and that those standards should apply to all alcohol advertising including beer, wine, distilled spirits, and malt beverages.

Media guidelines should include:

  • Time, place, and manner restrictions on all television alcoholic beverage advertising so as to limit the exposure of underage viewers to such advertising.
  • A matching amount and comparable placement of air time/ad space for alcohol-related public health and alcohol-related safety messages for young people and adults. These counter-ads must be produced by a government agency or an independent agency or public health experts not affiliated with the alcohol industry.
  • Application of MADD's standards to product promotion at events that are likely to be televised.

Accordingly, MADD issues the following set of standards to guide the advertisement and promotion of all beverage alcohol products and authorizes MADD entities to identify and bring to public attention examples of advertising, promotions, or other marketing activities that violate these standards.

In these standards, beverage alcohol advertising is meant to include all advertising, promotions, or other marketing activities used to sell or otherwise promote beverage alcohol products or alcohol-related paraphernalia by any company, association or other organization that is part of the alcohol industry.

By the "alcohol industry," MADD means the following entities or their representatives:

  1. Alcohol producers, including distillers, brewers, and wineries and their subsidiaries
  2. Alcohol distributors, wholesalers, and retailers whose primary income comes from trade in alcohol products
  3. Alcohol trade associations whose principal mission is to further the business interests of alcohol producers, distributors, wholesalers, or retailers
  4. Non-profit public service organizations that receive the majority of their funds from alcohol interests, either directly or indirectly

Beverage alcohol advertising should not:

  1. Portray or encourage drinking by individuals under the age of 21
  2. Feature actors, models or other talent or characters under the age of 30
  3. Be broadcast to audiences with less than 90% adult aged 21 and older viewership
  4. Feature on-camera consumption
  5. Use celebrities, music stars, athletes, animals, cartoon characters, or other language or images that appeal to youth
  6. Depict sports, rock concerts, or other events with strong appeal to youth
  7. Target spring break activities or cultural, sporting or marketing events where it can be anticipated that more than 30% of the audience will be made up of people under the age of 21
  8. Include the licensing of youth-oriented clothing or toys that feature alcohol brand names, logos, or trade characters
  9. Portray or encourage drinking by pregnant women or women seeking to become pregnant
  10. Model, suggest, or otherwise encourage heavy consumption
  11. Promote underage drinking as a "rite of passage"
  12. Portray or encourage drinking by alcoholics or other groups particularly vulnerable to alcohol. State or imply that any level of alcohol consumption is risk-free or safe
  13. Associate alcohol consumption with high-risk activities or with situations that require alertness
  14. Depict revelry or hint at the possibility of inebriation
  15. Portray drinking as a means to achieve popularity or social acceptance, enhance sex appeal, obtain personal achievements, improve social or financial status
  16. Portray drinking as a means to relieve stress or provide solutions to problems
  17. Portray drinking in association with sexual passion, promiscuity, or any other amorous activity as a consequence of or in association with alcohol consumption
  18. Disproportionately target ethnic minority communities

Alcohol Product Packaging

Because of MADD's position on underage drinking and because of the role underage drinkers play in the problem of alcohol impaired driving, MADD is rightly concerned about the manner in which alcohol products are packaged for sale. Accordingly, MADD issues the following set of standards to guide the packaging of beverage alcohol products and authorizes the National Office to identify and bring to public attention examples of product packaging that violate these standards.

1) Food or beverage products containing alcohol should not be sold in packaging that

a) resembles or could be mistaken for standard packaging for non-lcoholic products, or

b) serves to misrepresent or otherwise create confusion about the amount of alcohol these products contain.

2) Alcohol content information for all food and beverage products containing alcohol should be presented on product labels and packaging in a non-promotional manner that truly informs the consumer as to the products' actual alcohol content.

Alcohol content should be expressed in terms of unit service size, defined as the amount of alcohol contained in a "standard drink." The number of drinks contained should be rounded to the nearest quarter drink.

A "standard drink" should be defined as a serving of malt beverage, wine, or distilled spirit that contains .56 ounces of alcohol by volume, equivalent to 12 ounces of regular beer, 5 ounces of wine and 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits (80 proof).

Privatization of State Alcohol Sales

MADD supports the retention of government control of retail alcoholic beverage sales in jurisdictions considering transfer of such control to the private sector. An analysis of 17 peer-reviewed studies conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) was reported in The Guide to Community Prevention Services (April 2012). The CDC concluded that privatization of alcohol sales will result in a reduction in the enforcement of sales regulations including enforcement of the minimum legal drinking age.

Therefore, policies or legislation transferring state alcohol control to private control are counter to MADD’s mission of eliminating drunk driving and preventing underage drinking.