To the People

The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or TO THE PEOPLE.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Red Sox and the Manny Nanny State

Daisuke Matsuzaka, the Japanese pitcher who joined my Red Sox this year after honing his gyroballing skills with his home country's Seibu Lions, finds himself in a bit of trouble here in the U.S. for... drinking a beer. On television. Legally. In Japan.
A slick commercial for Asahi “Super” Dry beer features Matsuzaka donning a Red Sox jersey and throwing in full uniform in front of a simulated frenzied throng. In between those shots, Matsuzaka, in street clothes, is shown first taking a couple of gulps from a large glass of beer. After a quick cut, the shot returns toMatsuzaka downing the beer and, with foam on his lips, smiling and sighing contentedly.

Asahi’s beer is No. 1 in overall sales in Japan and the ad campaign, which also features the Yankees’ Hideki Matsui, is nothing unusual for Japan, where athletes are often used in beer endorsements and can be seen drinking on camera.

But in the United States, beer cannot be consumed in TV ads and Major League Baseball does not allow its players to endorse alcohol domestically. Those rules do not apply to international markets, however.
The Red Sox have voiced tepid disapproval -- not even bothering to issue a press release. So the grumblings aren't coming from their end. The real trouble's coming from the (drumroll) U.S. government.
According to Arthur Resnick, director of public and media affairs for the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau in Washington, D.C., Matsuzaka’s Asahi ad may merit punitive action.

“Our jurisdiction runs to false and misleading ads,” said Resnick, who pointed to a 1995 ruling that says the bureau would consider unacceptable any ad “which depicts any individual (famous athlete or otherwise) consuming or about to consume an alcoholic beverage prior to or during an athletic activity or event,” or an ad that states that drinking alcohol “will enhance athletic prowess, performance at athletic activities or events, health or conditioning.”
As far as I can tell -- and my Japanese is probably about as good as is Resnick's -- this ad doesn't do either. Regardless, the ad doesn't even air in the fucking U.S.! It's only available here on them internets. If some little-known, nannying arm of the U.S. Treasury Department has any claim to jurisdiction over Japanese advertising that airs only in Japan, that's probably news to the Japanese.

More on the controversy in the Boston Herald here . Resnick railing against moonshine here.

Labels: , , ,