EUCAM - European Centre for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing

Alcohol industry launches £100 million responsible drinking campaign

21 July 2009

Alcohol industry launches £100 million responsible drinking campaign Date: 21 July 2009
Source: Alcoholpolicy

A collaboration of more than 45 drinks companies and retailers have funded a 5 year responsible drinking campaign costing £100 million. The 'campaign for smarter drinking' will see the industry funded Drinkaware trust lead on the campaign that will "offer practical tips to make sure good times don’t go bad, such as reminders to drink water or soft drinks, eat food and plan to get home safely." The campaign claims it will take a social marketing approach to "use outdoor advertising, signs, drink mats in pubs and bars, on-drink and point of sale displays in retailers to deliver its message."

However the latest announcement of more money on 'responsible drinking' campaigns has continued to anger groups that highlight a lack of evidence for such approaches. Professor Ian Gilmore, chair of the UK Alcohol Health Alliance and president of the Royal college of

Physicians, has responded by stating:
"There is very little evidence that health messages work to prevent binge or harmful drinking. Instead, all the international evidence shows that increasing the price and reducing the availability of alcohol, together with bans on advertising, are the main methods of reducing alcohol-related harm. We need strong government action in these areas right now."

Don Shenker, chief executive of Alcohol Concern, referred to a history of a softer approach to regulating the industry taken by the government: "This new initiative appears to be yet another example of the drinks industry trying desperately to avoid mandatory legislation to pass on health information to consumers."

Currently consultation is out on further measures to ensure licensed premises sell alcohol responsibly, which followed a lack of adherence to the current voluntary code of practice. However other groups, such as the BMA and Chief Medical Officer continue to call for stronger action such as minimum pricing and controls on advertising as necessary measures for reducing alcohol-related harm.

Certainly here at Alcohol Policy UK it seems we have regularly reported on new 'responsible drinking campaigns' over recent years, funded by a range of government departments as well as industry-funded organisations. Not to mention local and regional campaigns that don't make national news. Last year we reported concerns over continuous campaigns when drinks industry giant Diageo launched its own responsible drinking website. Since then a number of further Home Office campaigns have also been launched alongside the £10 million NHS Know Your Limits campaign.

Comment of Eucam: This campaign is a great example of what is found in a lot of campaigns and was discussed earlier in our latest report ‘Trends in alcohol marketing. Corporate Social Responsibility: the new marketing tool.’, and is mainly used to improve the image of the companies involved. The campaign will probably have little or no effect on the drinking behavior, but the brands will be valued as more responsible and thus more positive.

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