Energy drink companies to testify about marketing

WASHINGTON (WJLA) -- From flashy advertising to the centerpiece of action sports commercialism, energy drinks have become a $10 billion a year industry – and it’s still growing.

“I would say they motivate me in the morning -- say if I get up really early and need something to get me going," says skater Dave Gutierrez, who fits the target demographic of 18 to 24-year-olds.

What Congress is looking into though, is whether or not energy drink manufacturers are specifically targeting consumers under the age of 18.

“The question I want to get answered is if this is responsible corporate behavior,” says Senator Rockefeller.

The American Medical Association is calling for a ban on marketing energy drinks to children due to concerns about the effects of caffeine on teenagers. But energy drink manufacturers argue that teenagers get more caffeine from coffee than energy drinks.

According to the CEO of Monster drinks, “The company does not market to children and never has. And Monster has a warning on the can saying ‘not recommended for children.’”

Still an active skater, Joe Wheeler is much older than the target demographic – and not an energy drink user:

“The only time I had a Rockstar was at an event in California, and it was the only thing they were giving out for free. I had three in one day and was going pretty much berserk.”

As a father, Wheeler doesn’t want his kids to drink them, but understands why many youngsters do, saying: “It works. The marketing works to the younger generation, I see them drinking a lot of it.”

While Congress isn’t looking to completely restrict teens from drinking energy drinks, it may try and restrict manufacturers from using young athletes to promote them. That way, the drinks might become a little less cool and a little less desirable for those whose bodies may be more sensitive to caffeine.

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