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Groups protest Halloween beer ads

A coalition of organizations has launched a campaign aimed at pressuring the beer industry to drop glowing jack-o-lanterns, black cats and other Halloween ghosts and goblins from its advertising.

The groups participating in the "Hands off Halloween" campaign said they fear that children attracted to the colorful displays and brightly labeled bottles will begin to experiment with alcohol.

The beer industry denied that its Halloween promotions are aimed at attracting the interest of children, saying they are "carefully produced and placed to reach adult audiences."

"If beer companies used Santa Claus to promote beer, Americans would cry out for it to stop," said Andrew McGuire, executive director of The Trauma Foundation in San Francisco. "Halloween is as endearing as Santa Claus."

McGuire said beer industry guidelines prohibit the use of Santa Claus in advertising or marketing its products. Halloween, as primarily a children's holiday, should be treated the same, he said.