Liquorland Timaru selling crates of Vodka Cruisers for National Crate Day
A Timaru liquor store's Crate Day promotion has been called "irresponsible" and slammed for targeting young women - even as the company says it actively promotes responsible drinking.
Liquorland Timaru is selling Cruiser Crates - handmade crate boxes containing a standard box of Vodka Cruiser RTDs.
The promotion is running ahead of the 7th annual National Crate Day, an event run by The Rock radio station.
Crate Day is a "tradition" where people drink a "swappa crate" – 12 large (745-millilitre) bottles of beer – to celebrate the beginning of summer.
While Crate Day usually focuses on beer, the Cruiser Crates have been flying off the shelves in Timaru.
The crates contain a standard box of Vodka Cruisers, which were one standard drink each, rather than crate bottles.
The initial 40 crates made had sold out quickly, according to the store's Facebook page.
Demand had been so strong, staff had spent Wednesday night making more crates.
The promotion had also generated plenty of buzz on social media.
An initial Facebook post promoting the crates had received nearly 1500 comments, with some punters joking they should drive down from Auckland to pick one up.
However, the promotion, and Crate Day itself, have come under fire for promoting the "normalisation" of binge drinking.
Crate Day has been the subject of criticism since its inception, with police saying they had "serious concerns about any event like this which encourages binge drinking and could put participants and other members of the public at risk".
Geraldine GP Dr Diana Scott described Crate Day as "sickening".
"It's a really stupid thing to do, and it normalises binge drinking," she said.
Excessive drinking could cause damage to the brain and lead to low blood sugar, which could result in a person going into a hypoglycemic coma.
That could be fatal, she said.
She believed the promotion was exploiting people for commercial gain.
She also criticised the Cruiser Crate promotion, calling it "irresponsible".
RTDs were typically targeted towards a younger, female market, she said.
If people were planning to take part in Crate Day, she urged them to drink responsibly, ensure there was a sober person present, and to not get behind the wheel.
Liquorland national marketing manager Rita Shields said the company had a "harsh stance" when it came to responsible drinking.
The Cruiser Crate promotion was only being run at the Timaru store, and it was being marketed as a crate to share between people, she said.
Staff at the Timaru store had made the crates themselves, and placed standard boxes of Vodka Cruisers inside, she said.
"For some reason it's really resonated," she said.
"Most people are sort of excited about the handmade crates."
A spokeswoman for The Rock said Crate Day had always been about sharing a crate, and "very clearly promotes responsible drinking".
"The Rock National Crate Day is not about celebrating drinking, it's about celebrating all things summer - get your mates over, fire up the BBQ, listen to some tunes, play some back yard cricket and share some cold beers with your mates."