Monday, June 21, 2010

In the news: "Icing" trend

We’ve seen a few articles recently, from both Time magazine and the New York Times, about a new trend called “icing”. Essentially, it’s a drinking game that involves men (“bros”) surprising other bros by handing them an alcopop – the person then has to go down on one knee and chug the entire drink at once. If the dude already has a bottle with him, the guy originating the “icing” must drink both bottles. As the Time article mentions, if you refuse to play, you’ll lose credibility with your friends. The author of the Time article talks about this ironically, but it’s not hard to see that some people could take it seriously.

There’s been some question as to whether this is a new marketing technique by Diageo (the parent company), although they have denied it. Even if it wasn’t dreamed up by the advertising execs themselves, those who join thinking it’s all in fun end up being used to virally market a product. And there are several other issues - as 21 Reasons staffer Jen says, “…the sexism of humiliating a guy by making him drink a “girly” drink on his knees, the binging-DUI-open container aspect…”

Essentially, although it sounded like a bogus trend to us at first, it appears that the game has gained a following, and parents and those who work with teens should be aware that it promotes unhealthy drinking: the alcopop must be chugged immediately, regardless of the situation that the “ice-ee” finds himself in—and the game could require two or more drinks in a row. For an average-sized male, that could put them dangerously close to exceeding the legal driving BAC.

Not only that, but the game has ties to pop culture icons in addition to the college party scene, making it potentially more appealing to teens.

UPDATE: As of last weekend, Ad Age is reporting that the Bros Icing Bros website has been taken down, mostly likely due to a push by Diageo. Although Diageo’s statement said that the game “does not comply with our marketing code”, they didn’t mention much about the potential that the game has to increase unhealthy drinking. And while it’s great that they’re distancing themselves from this trend, it seems like they might be more concerned with copyright infringement and the fact that the game “disparages” the alcopop rather than the dangerous drinking behavior the game promotes.

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