- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 2, 2000

STAMFORD, Conn. A Connecticut woman's e-mail complaint about boys' T-shirts with a variation of a popular beer brewer's slogan prompted J.C. Penney Co. Inc. to pull the shirts from its store shelves.

Diane Samples, a New Fairfield mother of a 4-year-old boy, was shopping at the J.C. Penney store in Danbury about three weeks ago when she saw a shirt in the boys' department bearing the word "Wazzzuuuup?"

The spelling of the popular expression was different from the "Whassup?" advertising slogan for Budweiser beer and did not contain the beer brand's logo.

But Mrs. Samples believed the shirts were inappropriate for boys all the same. She began sending e-mail complaints to the company and sent mass distribution e-mail messages to child advocacy organizations, including the American Academy of Pediatrics.

"Some people might think, 'What's the big deal? It's just a shirt.' A little kid is not going to want to go drink beer just because he likes a shirt. But this is Anheuser-Busch's attempt to gain brand awareness at the earliest possible age," she said.

Tim Lyons, a spokesman for J.C. Penney, said the retail chain has agreed to Mrs. Sample's demand to pull the shirts from its 1,100 stores.

Anheuser-Busch Cos., maker of Budweiser beer, said the company's merchandise is intended for adults. The "Whassup?" campaign, which began in December, features men in various situations shouting the "Whassup?" greeting to their friends.

"We make clothing items in adult sizes only and we don't market beer-branded merchandise to those under the age of 21 because they're not our customers," said Francine I. Katz, vice president of consumer affairs for the St. Louis-based brewer.

"Further, if someone produces unauthorized merchandise carrying or resembling any of our logos or other brand symbols and attempts to sell them to minors we work aggressively through the legal system to stop them."

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