The problem wasn’t Tropicana’s ads. It’s our drinking culture.

My background is in advertising. As a creative in the industry, I have this random fear that my name will be attached to a campaign that blows up in all of the wrong ways. Like that Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad. These projects are never one person’s fault, though. Campaigns are touched by dozens of people, all with a voice and an ability to say something doesn’t seem right. But, when dozens of people don’t speak up, it’s easy to sit back and say, “maybe it’s just me who has a problem.”

I have no personal knowledge of what happened with the Tropicana “Mimoments” campaign, and why they saw it fit to celebrate parents using alcohol as a coping mechanism. But, I do know one thing, the campaign was based on a human truth. All advertising is. Strategists tell creatives like me about some human truth we can jump off of, because finding those insights helps connect a product to a consumer. 

Somewhere, someone (likely many someones) with data and some anecdotal evidence recognized that some parents are turning to alcohol right now. Then they went and made some videos and came up with a hashtag. And then it all blew up. The ads - what Tropicana filmed and posted - aren’t the actual problem. The problem is that this data and insights exist.  

Quarantine is leading those with drinking problems to drink even more. There are millions of #winemom and #winemoments and #winetime posts on instagram. We’re all hearing people talk about drinking more and drinking earlier in the day during quarantine. My guess is that the team saw these sales trends, posts, and conversations, and well, they decided to celebrate and encourage it. 

What they didn’t think about is the downstream effects of normalizing this behavior. Sadly, one in five children have lived in homes with alcoholic parents. The adverse effects of drinking are well documented. The sober community has responded to this campaign in ways that show just how much drinking affected their lives, relationships, and families. 

I’m re-watching The Wire right now. The show did an amazing job painting the picture of drug-dealing in the streets of Baltimore. But the heart of the show was never the street dealers. It was the system that created and allowed the drug trade to happen. Until we fix the system that glamorizes drinking as a coping mechanism, the data and insights that leads teams of people to create these campaigns will exist. 

We started Betera to change the conversation around abstaining from drinking. Our culture celebrates drinking while making it awkward for those who aren’t. We want to make it easier to skip a drink. Betera will meet our customers wherever they are on their journey, playing a part in helping the data move in a different direction. 


Aaron Sanchez is the Co-Founder of Betera and is an advertising veteran.