Last week I was at my neighborhood Walgreens and I saw a collection of products on the shelf that stopped me in my tracks. On the top shelf of the aisle in Walgreens were an assortment of alcohol-free drink products from MADD Virgin Drinks.
As I stood in the store and examined the product, my eyes kept going back and forth as I saw the logo for MADD - Mothers Against Drunk Driving - on bottles of alcohol-free Virgin Brut (sparkling wine), Virgin Rouge (red wine), Virgin Blanc (white wine), and on boxes of Virgin Mojitos and Virgin Margaritas.
I have spent the last week thinking about the association of a line of alcohol-free drinks with Mothers Against Drunk Driving which, according to their website, "is the nation’s largest nonprofit working to protect families from drunk driving and underage drinking."
Before January 23, 2013, I doubt I would have even noticed the product on the shelves.
But on that evening, I had too much to drink, got in my car and drove. I was not wearing my seatbelt and my car bounced off both sides of a section of Interstate 35-E in Mendota Heights. I woke up 15 hours later in the hospital with a breathing tube down my throat and my entire family around me. I was lucky to be alive and I later pleaded guilty to drinking and driving.
Back in Walgreens, I reviewed the label on the back of a bottle of MADD Virgin Drinks alcohol-free Virgin Blanc. The label said "10% of net sales go to MADD." I was curious about the donation and after doing a quick search on the my phone, I was able to find the press release which announced the availability of MADD Virgin Drinks exclusively at Walgreens stores in the U.S.
According to the press release, 5% of each sale of MADD Virgin Drinks in the U.S. went to support MADD. Similar language appeared on MADD Virgin Drinks' website. The language on the bottle was different and after contacting MADD Virgin Drinks for this post, the company changed the language on their website to explain the discrepancy on the labeling.
The sale of MADD Virgin Drinks in Walgreens stores is limited "to adults 21 and older, as to not send a mixed message to those under 21."
MADD Virgin Drinks has separate agreements with MADD in the U.S. and MADD Canada to contribute a portion of each sale of their product sold in the two countries. While MADD's logo and name appear on the labels, the alcohol-free wine I reviewed in Walgreens was made by Stassen S.A. in Belgium, which is owned by Heineken N.V. Heineken is one of the largest beer brewers in the world.
The focus of this post has evolved over the last week. When I drink, which is rare, I do so responsibly. My interest in writing about MADD's logo appearing on a bottle of alcohol-free beverages comes from learning more about the issue of drinking and driving over the last two years since my
accident car crash.
My initial reaction to MADD Virgin Drinks has remained the same: MADD Virgin Drinks is not much different than a line of candy cigarettes being sponsored by an organization dedicated to eliminating cancer. Many groups, including MADD, have been instrumental in saving lives by working to prevent drinking and driving. But has MADD gone too far by allowing their label to appear on alcohol-free drinks?
What do you think? I encourage you to leave a comment on this post with your thoughts about MADD Virgin Drinks. I will be monitoring the comments and working on a follow-up posts based on the feedback and additional information.