Action Alert: Help Get Beer Ads Out of the Air and Space Museum

Action Alert Index

October 21, 2003


For the updated Action Alert (11/24/03), click here.


When the new annex of the National Air and Space Museum opens this December, the premier aerobatic plane on display will serve as a blatant advertisement for Bud Light beer.  The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) needs your help to protect millions of children from beer promotion in our nation's premier science museum.




The Stephens Akro Laser 200 is an award-winning aerobatic plane that won many competitions in the 1970s.  In 1983, after the plane's builder/pilot retired from competition, Anheuser-Busch offered its corporate support to showcase the Laser 200 at air shows.  The plane's trademark blue and yellow markings were replaced by a bright red color scheme to emphasize the Bud Light logo. (See the plane's picture, below.)


Source: National Air and Space Museum


Alcohol advertising provides an implicit endorsement of alcohol use.  The display of the Bud Light plane, covered in gratuitous and blatant beer advertising, sends misleading and dangerous messages to the millions of children and youth who frequent this premier public museum.  Alcohol is the leading drug problem among youth in the U.S., and early use of alcohol predicts later alcohol dependence and other drug problems.


In accepting the donation of the Bud Light plane in 1999 and displaying it in 2003, Smithsonian officials failed to consider carefully audience and message appropriateness, educational value, or historical accuracy.  Anheuser-Busch may be a valued corporate sponsor of the Smithsonian, but Bud Light decals have nothing to do with educating the public and inspiring the young about the nation's accomplishments in flight.


Congress Poised to Act


Others share CSPI's concerns about the Bud Light plane's inappropriateness.  Four Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are circulating for co-signatures a letter that will go to Smithsonian Secretary Lawrence Small, expressing disapproval of the plane's placement at the Smithsonian and asking that it be restored to its historically accurate original color scheme.  (In the past few years, many Members of Congress have voice opposition to the increasing commercialization of Smithsonian museums; the Bud Light plane is just the latest egregious example of this trend.)


The original signatories of the letter to Small are Reps. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY), Zack Wamp (R-TN), Tom Osborne (R-NE), and Lucille Roybal-Allard (D-CA).  The more members that sign, the greater the potential impact of the letter.  And that is where you come in!


What You Can Do


You can be instrumental in stripping the plane of its Bud Light logos.  Call your Member of Congress today and urge him/her to sign on to the "Smithsonian Bud Light plane" letter.


Here's how to do it:


By Phone:

  1. Call your U.S. Representative's Washington office.  (If you don't have the number, try the phonebook or call 202-224-3121 and the Capitol Switchboard will connect you.)

  2. Ask to speak with the staff member who handles children's issues.

  3. Whether you speak with a staffer or leave a message on his/her voice mail, your message is the same.  Identify yourself as a constituent and ask the Member to sign on to the Smithsonian Bud Light plane letter.  If the staffer is not familiar with the letter, ask him/her to contact Paul Brotherton in Rep. Hinchey's office at 202-225-6335.

Example:  This is [Amy Gotwals] calling from [Schenectady].  I'd like to urge Representative [Smith] to sign on to the letter that Congressmen Hinchey and Wamp and others are circulating to eliminate beer advertising on an exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum.


Feel free to personalize your message by expressing your own concerns about the display of the Bud Light plane, or adding any relevant information from your district.  For example:  Given the problems we already have with underage drinking here in [Atlanta], it's appalling to think that millions of kids will encounter beer promotion on a school trip to Washington's Smithsonian museums.



It's that simple.  And it's really helpful.


For more information, contact Amy Gotwals, manager of grassroots advocacy, or 202-332-9110.



October 2003

For more information, please send us an email.


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Center for Science in the Public Interest

Alcohol Policies Project

1220 L St. NW, Suite 300

Washington, DC  20005

Phone: 202-332-9110 * Fax: 202-265-4954 * Web: