Alcohol advertising, really are you serious? Are you telling me we still advertise a product that is widely recognised by most Governments as one of the most addictive and damaging drugs available. And you’re really telling me that adverts from much of the alcohol industry aren’t impressionable, especially on the young. Watching ads from two of the industry’s most successful companies, Carlsberg and Heineken show that both ‘suggest’ alcohol as something that is inherently cool with ad after ad demonstrating this and absolutely leave an impression especially on the young. There is a fine line for making sure that the ads don’t overstep the mark, but I think forward thinking Governments around the world should take a lead and rein in the creatives and gradually remove all advertising from screens including TV and in cinemas.
Alcohol is recognised as being as harmful to health as tobacco and costs Governments directly or indirectly many millions of pounds through increased spend on health care or social issues that come about as a result of alcohol dependence. David Nutt, then adviser to the UK Government suggested in 2010 that alcohol was more dangerous than heroin and cocaine because it affected a wider community. But why do we put up with it? Is it the hold that lobbyists have over our Governments – is it because alcohol is so much more ingrained in our societies that smoking?
Just check out the following two ads from Heineken and Carlsberg, two companies well known for making clever and cool adverts. Who wouldn’t like a walk in fridge, or a flat with flatmates like in the Carlsberg ad. Yet who are we kidding that children don’t see these ads at home, and formative impressions are made early on and when they get older they want to act out what they’ve seen on TV. You only need walk round most UK towns late on a Saturday night to see how many young people are overcome from binge drinking.
Take this ad from Heineken – the walk in fridge. Yes it’s a very funny ad and I can remember a time when I’d have laughed and probably later on that night order a Heineken beer because of the happy connotations. But I used to switch off the TV in the early days of giving up drink because I didn’t want to see things like this as it isn’t real life and represented something that I’d chosen to give up.
And this one from Carlsberg is equally funny, but both hint that drinking is cool and somehow sexy, but is it really?
So when will alcohol follow the footsteps of tobacco advertising and be banned across Europe and elsewhere. No one seems to be seriously talking about bans so it’s safe to assume it is going to be with us a while yet.