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Graffiti-Style Beer Ads Anger Parents

Graffiti-style malt liquor ads are drawing fire from parents and anti-blight advocates in a city known for its colorful murals.

The ads for Colt 45 malt liquor show comic book-style characters clutching bottles and cans of booze. "Works every time," reads the slogan.

"I really wouldn't want my daughter looking at it," Jill Maguire said as she pushed a neighbor's baby in a stroller near one of the ads. "She might think it's cool."

Jane Golden, the director of the city's Mural Arts Program, said: "I just think it's distasteful. I just think it's the last thing we need."

A spokesman for Mayor Michael Nutter said he would look into the matter.

One of the Colt 45 ads is painted on a building next to a bicycle shop in the working-class neighborhood of Fishtown, a gentrifying area that still has many struggling families.

The ad's gray-and-white adult cartoon characters are shown holding golden cans and bottles of the malt liquor. In the corner, the small print reads, "Yo, enjoy our frosty malt beverages responsibly!"

A nonprofit anti-billboard group, the Society Created to Reduce Urban Blight, has complained to city regulators, saying the ads should be removed because they are in areas not zoned for advertising.

Mary Tracy, executive director of the group, said they are particularly offensive in a city known for murals of famous places and people, from Frank Sinatra to Malcolm X.

Nicole Seitz, the group's program director, said the group knows of two painted Colt 45 ads in Fishtown, as well as about seven other similar ads for Pabst Blue Ribbon beer.

Messages left by The Associated Press with Pabst Brewing Co., which produces Colt 45 and Pabst Blue Ribbon, were not returned Wednesday.

Last year, ads for Colt 45 were removed from the sides of city transit buses in response to community concerns. Inner-city activists across the country have long decried ads for malt liquor, which is similar to regular beer but with an alcohol content as high as 8 percent.

A bicycle mechanic who works at a shop next to one of the latest Fishtown ads said he's torn over it: He thinks it's great artwork, but he's opposed to the corporate presence.

"Big business is behind it all," said George Thoms, 34, who says he doesn't drink.