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Beer Institute meets in D.C.

The Beer Institute convened for its annual meeting in Washington, D.C. on May 18-19, to review the state of the industry and examine the issues confronting it.

Peter Coors, CEO of the Coors Brewing Co., succeeded Warren Dunn, chairman of the Miller Brewing Co. in the chairmanship of the Institute.

In accepting the appointment, Coors delivered a sincere (albeit familiar) call for industry unity. "We all talk about unity," he noted, "but sometimes I think we have a distorted idea of unity and sometimes we're on different tracks. We all have our own ideas about what's in our best interests.

"Let's make a real effort to unite as a total industry," he said, "and let's put our best players and best ideas to work on strategies that will help us turn the tide...of public opinion and public policy."

Coors also reviewed the most pressing threats confronting the industry. "The excise tax is certainly an immediate problem," he said, "but also a long-term threat, one that is not likely to go away with a Congress that always seems to have an appetite for raising taxes."

Coors also cited the Kennedy-Thurmond ad warning bills, the issue of ad deductibility and the possible dissolution of the BATF. "The issue of what agency regulates our industry an important one," he said, "and this is something we have to keep on top of. I'm sure there are a number of other agencies that would love the opportunity to regulate us."

Coors also outlined other areas that he would attend to, including building the social acceptability of the industry and its image.

Coors noted that the hiring of Ray McGrath as Institute president would go a long way towards increasing the "organizational credibility" of the Beer Institute. "Clearly," he said, "we're well on our way to building a more effective Beer Institute."

Coors said that a stronger Beer Institute would help the industry as it works to build coalitions. "We have to look for new coalitions with other associations and industry groups," he said. "This will help us bring new resources and more creativity to bear on the issues.

"We also have to improve our ability to research the issues," Coors said. "We're making progress, but the people who are opposing us bend the truth terribly."

In light of industry opponents who Coors said employ "science by press release," he suggested that the industry use the same tactics. "I'd like to get more on the offensive," he said, "and less on the defensive."

Warren Dunn also delivered a parting address to the gathered Institute, noting the accomplishments of the Institute during his term as chairman.

Dunn pointed to the broad efforts made by the Institute in combatting underage drinking. "The public service announcements that we have created have been played hundreds of thousands of time on radio and television," he said. "I think they are a great example of cooperation between the Beer Institute, The National Beer Wholesalers Association and the Association of Broadcasters.

"These PSAs are not hit-or-miss sermons," he said, "they are effective and targeted directly at parents and children."

Dunn also reported that the Institute has helped to distribute over one million laminated cards on how to check IDs. "This campaign represents a second line of defense to help prevent under-age purchases."

In light of these campaigns and other efforts, Dunn asserted that "no other industry does more to prevent abuse of their product than we do."

He observed that this public effort has made little impression on industry opponents. "When we spend millions of dollars, they dismiss it as a public relations ploy," he said. "Far from being a ploy, our efforts have been recognized and acclaimed. Numerous organizations have asked to use our PSAs with their own tags, and I think this is an excellent example of a public\private partnership that can do more with less."

On the excise tax front, Dunn noted that the tax remains a threat. "Despite all the published reports," he said, "no one can be sure whether the administration will attempt to raise taxes. If they don't, it's because of the massive effort to encourage beer drinkers to speak up. We have let everyone on the Hill know the facts about taxes."

In closing Dunn observed, "If we lose the communications battle, we lose the political battle. If we lose the political battle, we lose the industry. We have to win these battles."
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Title Annotation:Washington D.C.
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Date:May 31, 1993
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