Fan cans stick around


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Football game days are gone, but black and yellow “fan cans” are still popping up around Iowa City.

UI President Sally Mason — along with several other university presidents — sent a letter to Anheuser-Busch Companies Inc. in late August urging the beer distributor to cease distribution in Iowa City.

But earlier this week, the Liquor House, 425 S. Gilbert St., still had approximately 50 cases of the “Limited Edition” Bud Light beer cans displayed. Workers at Kum & Go, 25 W. Burlington St., said the cans are almost going out of style after gaining popularity during the football season.

“They’re not nearly so popular now that the season’s over,” said Leif Halvorson, the Kum & Go sales manager. “People plowed through those pretty quickly.”

Once “stocked to the top of the ceiling,” a few cases might still be in the “way back” of the cooler, Halvorson said.

The station probably won’t get many more, he said, and he speculated that the cans were only around for the football season, because the UI took issue with the Anheuser-Busch campaign.

In her letter, Mason asked the company to “right this wrong” by ceasing production of fan cans, and selling only those the company had already produced.

Anheuser-Busch responded, agreeing to sell only what had already been distributed in the area, said UI spokesman Tom Moore.

However, according to marketing materials, Anheuser-Busch encourages buyers to “create year-round excitement and show your support” with the cans, starting with football season.

The ad also urges wholesalers and retailers to “stock up and watch the fans follow,” which perhaps explains why some local sellers still have dozens of fan can cases displayed in their walk-in coolers.

Moore, along with numerous other university representatives, said they are unsure when the fan cans will disappear for good.

“After the letter, it was unclear how long the fan cans would still be around,” he said. “[Anheuser-Busch] gave no deadline or firm date for when it would stop.”

Other universities have had varying success crushing the cans.

Some schools took a more threatening approach by having their legal counsels write in.

University of Michigan’s attorney sent a letter citing trademark infringement, arguing the dark blue and yellow cans were much to similar to Michigan’s maize and gold team colors. Anheuser-Busch then vowed to not sell fan cans in that community area, said Kelly Cunningham, the director of public affairs.

And the university took it one step further, saying the institution’s community stretches to state borders.

And now there are no maize and blue fan cans in the state of Michigan, Cunningham said.

Jack Dunn, a spokesman at Boston College, said officials expressed their disapproval of the cans during the summer, and Anheuser-Busch never launched the campaign in their area.

Oklahoma State University Director of Communications Gary Shutt said the experience there has been similar to the UI’s, and Anheuser-Busch said it would sell only the “inventory already out there.”

“Eventually, they’ll run out, and it won’t be an issue,” he said.

Previously distributed cans are also still being sold in the University of Wisconsin-Madison area, said Vince Sweeney, the vice chancellor for university relations. Anheuser-Busch was responsive to Wisconsin officials’ requests, he said, and the ultimate departure of fan cans will be brought about by consumers.

“They’re probably all gone by now,” he said. “You know Wisconsin fans.”