EUCAM - European Centre for Monitoring Alcohol Marketing

Report says alcohol advertising code is failing

21 January 2010

Report says alcohol advertising code is failing Britain's system of self regulation on alcohol advertising is failing and companies are "pushing the boundaries" of codes of practice to lure in young drinkers, social marketing experts said Thursday.
A study analysing internal marketing documents from four alcohol producers and their communications agencies found many of them contravened the codes of practice designed to stop them from appealing to under-18s or encouraging excessive drinking.

Source: Reuters UK
21 January 2010

Researchers from Stirling University's institute of social marketing, found the drinks manufacturers -- Beverage Brands, Diageo, Molson Coors and Halewood International -- use market research data on 15 and 16 year olds guide marketing campaigns and many documents refer to the need to recruit new drinkers and establish brand loyalty.

Despite a ban on encouraging drunkenness and excess, they said they also found "many references to unwise and immoderate drinking, suggesting that increasing consumption is a key promotional aim."
The study said some documents, which were made available for a parliamentary inquiry, suggested drinks brands could promote social success, masculinity or femininity, even though these ideas are also banned under advertising codes. Carling lager, by Molson Coors, is described as a "social glue" by its promotion team, while the need to "communicate maleness and personality" is identified as an important advertising aim for WKD vodka drinks, from Beverage Brands.

The Labour government is coming under increasing pressure from health experts to consider setting minimum prices for alcohol to curb widespread binge drinking by young people with access to cheap drink.
Thursday's report was published by the British Medical Journal, whose deputy editor Trish Groves said it was now time to clamp down on alcohol promotion and set a minimum price per unit of alcohol to try to halt a rise in alcohol-related illness. "It is time to put away the rhetoric ... that alcohol misuse is largely an individual problem best avoided and managed through education, counselling, and medical treatment," she wrote in a commentary on the study. "Instead, the UK needs to embrace the idea that the health and societal costs of alcohol misuse are best prevented through legislation on pricing and marketing."
She noted that while the British government is spending 17.6 million pounds on alcohol education in 2009/10, that figure was dwarfed by the UK drinks industry's 600 million to 800 million pounds annual spend on promoting alcohol.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown rejected a recommendation from chief medical officer Liam Donaldson last March that a minimum price of 50 pence should be set per unit of alcohol in England, -- a level which would nearly double the price of some cheap beers and wines. Donaldson said such a move would reduce the annual number of crimes by 46,000 and hospital admissions by 100,000 while cutting absenteeism from work, saving 1 billion pounds a year.

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failure-of-self-regulations.pdffailure-of-self-regulations.pdf (306 kB)

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