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Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation just a tad over-excited

April 3rd, 2009 at 12:46pm

I received a press release from the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation a short time ago, and they seem to be a tad over-excited:

The Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation (AER) today welcomed the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia’s (DSICA) announcement they will place a moratorium on TV advertising of alcohol brands represented by the Spirits Council before 9pm for a period of twelve months, with its effects to be assessed.

AER Chairman Scott Wilson said the move is an encouraging step towards the more responsible alcohol marketing and advertising code called for by Senator Steven Fielding, AER and many public health organisations.

On the face of it, this sounds like a very big story. No alcohol advertising before 9pm is a big step, but the more you read, the less the story seems even remotely interesting. Two paragraphs later Mr. Wilson had this to say:

“This proactive announcement by DSICA covers a handful of alcohol brands that pay significant amounts to promote their products to sporting enthusiasts, young and old. It is important to ensure that alcohol brands across the board adopt a more responsible advertising code, and we believe all alcohol promotion, advertising and sponsorship of sport at all levels should be Government regulated.”

What Mr. Wilson means by “a handful” is “nine”. Yes, that’s right, nine alcohol companies. According to the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia website, these nine companies are:

  • Bacardi Lion Pty Ltd
  • Jim Beam Brands Australia Pty Ltd
  • Brown-Forman Australia
  • Bundaberg Distilling Company
  • Diageo Australia Limited
  • Maxxium Australia Pty Ltd
  • Moet Hennessy Australia Pty Ltd
  • Suntory (Aust) Pty Ltd
  • William Grant & Sons International Ltd

I can think of a few companies which aren’t on that list, and are therefore not affected by the moratorium. Mr. Wilson went on to say in a side-splitting manner:

“Without this regulation in place, we risk giving other alcohol brands an opportunity to take centre stage – and the game, the players and the audience will suffer the hangover.”

Mr. Wilson is right. Other alcohol companies will take over the vacated advertising spots.

The only thing being achieved by this moratorium is a decrease in the brand-awareness of the nine listed companies, which is only likely to damage those companies in favour of the unlisted companies. It won’t reduce alcohol sales, but it might send the nine companies to the wall, which would give the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation a chance to gloat in their supposed success…after all, the companies must be selling less if they collapse, right?


Entry Filed under: General News,Samuel's Editorials

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  • 1. BradZ  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 1:42 pm

    I think the point that you’re missing here is that this is a *voluntary* moratorium (possibly) enforced upon its membership by DSICA.

    Should the involved companies be unhappy with the outcome, they, I imagine, would be more than welcome to leave this industry association, whose charter appears to be supporting the companies best interests.

    I think the decision that this industry council has taken, and associated members agreeing to this voluntary moratorium, is all about spinning towards having us believe they do care about binge drinking, in particular within the social groups you mention, and will be used to counter anyone claiming that they support such activities.

    One less alcohol company running one less ad is a positive step in my opinion, the brands in question certainly *do* form at least a fair majority of the most popular and most advertised on television on a regular basis.

  • 2. Samuel  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 2:05 pm

    I fully accept that this is a voluntary moratorium, and alcohol companies are more than welcome to leave DSICA at any time.

    I just think that the Alcohol Education and Rehabilitation Foundation seem to be a bit too excited over what is a fairly uncompelling announcement.

    A section of the alcohol industry banning themselves from advertising will, in my view, only cause the other alcohol companies to pick up the slack, quite possibly at a lower price due to broadcasters trying to fill gaping holes in their ad schedules.

    I don’t think this move will achieve anything useful. A legislated ban (such as the one imposed on cigarette companies) would produce a useful outcome, but then we get in to the whole debate over banning advertising of legal products again…a minefield from which we might not ever emerge.

  • 3. BradZ  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Ahh, groups like the AERF have to do *something* to try and raise their profile once in a while, even if it is, as you say, a “nothing” release 🙂

    About the only positive outcome I can see here is that possibly, just maybe, any companies that now come in and take advantage of what DSICA members have done may be painted in a rather poor light. I would assume that’s what they’re hoping for and will push for in one way or another.

  • 4. Samuel  |  April 3rd, 2009 at 2:52 pm

    Agreed Brad.


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