U.S. Sens. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), John Rockefeller (D-W.V.), and Edward Markey (D-Mass.) have written a letter to Rockstar, Inc. CEO Russell Weiner, questioning the energy drink company’s relationship with Ronin Syndicate, the manufacturer of remote-controlled toys crossed-branded with the Rockstar logo. Responding to consumer complaints on social media sites, the senators pointed to a July 31, 2013, hearing held by the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee investigating the alleged health risks of caffeinated energy drinks. In particular, they noted that Rockstar Chief Operating and Financial Officer Janet Weiner told committee members that "Rockstar’s target demographic is persons 18 to 35 years of age and their company does not market products to children under 12 years of age."
"Despite statements from your company that Rockstar, Inc. does not market to children, examples of what appear to be targeted marketing of your products to children have come to our attention," states the November 15, 2013, letter, which focuses on the "Rockstar Energy Drink RC Wakeboard Boat" sold by national and online retailers. "On the Target website this product is featured in the ‘toy’ section with a manufacturer’s suggested age of ‘8 years and up.’ Additionally, the website for Ronin Syndicate features several other toys with the Rockstar Energy Drink name and logo."
More specifically, the letter’s signatories ask the energy drink manufacturer to provide a written response explaining its partnership with Ronin Syndicate and detailing what steps the company will take to address the issue. "These products can be dangerous for children because of the high levels of caffeine, and these kinds of marketing pitches aimed at children are one of the reasons why emergency room visits concerning these energy drinks are skyrocketing," Blumenthal was quoted as saying. "We’re asking this company and all the energy drink companies to stop their pitches and marketing ploys to children using toys, as well as social media and celebrities and athletic stars." See CNN’s The Lead, November 15, 2013.