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UK drinks on responsible drinking campaign

This initiative represents the largest ever media spend on responsible drinking messages. Developed by over 45 companies as the Campaign for Smarter Drinking, it is launched in partnership with independent charity Drinkaware and the government and is intended to run for five years.

The campaign will use outdoor advertising, signs, drink mats in pubs and bars, on-pack and point of sale displays in retailers to deliver its message under the strapline “why let good times go bad?”

It is designed to maximise the potential offered by the direct relationship drinks brands have with consumers. The campaign will not talk down to young adults or tell them what to do, which has been shown not to work.  Instead it will emphasise the benefits of responsible enjoyment and offer practical tips such as reminders to drink water or soft drinks, eat food and plan to get home safely.

By both asking questions and reminding consumers about the importance of making smart choices, this campaign aims to shift the culture around alcohol by targeting those who drink to excess without punishing the majority of responsible drinkers.

Jonathan Neame, CEO Shepherd-Neame and signatory of Campaign for Smarter Drinking, says: “For years people have asked what needs to be done to encourage a responsible drinking culture in Britain and reduce alcohol misuse among young adults.  This initiative is part of the answer and the drinks industry is in a unique position to help deliver such a shift in our culture. In the end, we can only achieve change if people take responsibility for their own behaviour and this campaign will help them make informed choices.”

Andy Burnham and Alan Johnson have confirmed they will support the Campaign for Smarter Drinking in its launch year, with further support conditional on the results of an independent audit of the campaign’s funding and effectiveness, as well as a review of future funding commitments from the industry for Drinkaware.

Secretary of State for Health, Andy Burnham says: “While the vast majority of people who drink enjoy alcohol in moderation, we’re facing a growing public health problem where people are regularly drinking too much or are dependent on alcohol.

“Clearly the industry has a responsibility to play their part in tackling this problem and I hope this campaign will make a real difference to people’s attitudes to drunkenness and their drinking behaviour.”

Home Secretary Alan Johnson says: “We are determined to tackle alcohol related crime and disorder which costs the UK billions every year in police and hospital resources not to mention the effect it has on the lives of millions of decent people.

“Alcohol-related violent crime has fallen by a third since 1997, but no-one is suggesting the job is done and educating people about the dangers of binge drinking is a responsibility not just for the Government, but for us all. That is why I am pleased that the industry is making a commitment to do exactly that.

“This campaign will complement the wide range of actions we are already undertaking to address binge drinking, including giving police more tools and powers to tackle disruptive drinkers and consulting on new rules to ensure that businesses that sell alcohol are doing it responsibly.”

Drinkaware chairman Derek Lewis says: “We welcome industry’s increased participation in tackling irresponsible drinking. The impact of alcohol misuse is a blight on individuals, communities and society with the financial, social and health impacts affecting us all. Making sure young adults have the right information about the effect of alcohol misuse on their health and wellbeing is an essential part of tackling the problem. From September, Drinkaware will deliver the campaign to consumers, ensuring they have the facts they need to make informed choices about drinking. Changing behaviour starts with education – and society as a whole stands to gain.”

Commander Simon O'Brien Metropolitan Police and ACPO lead on Alcohol Licensing says: “The Association of Chief Police Officers have consistently said that there needs to be a real culture change in attitudes to binge drinking.  The police are there to enforce the law when, a few people step well over the line, often because they are well over the limit.  This campaign has our support as it asks people to think about their own behaviour, to drink sensibly, and to enjoy their time socialising.”

The campaign will launch the first set of advertisements nationwide later this year in bars, pubs, supermarkets and high street retailers.

The campaign is supported by a group of partners in the drinks industry including major producers, retailers, supermarkets and trade associations.

What is it?
The campaign for Smarter Drinking is a £100 million social marketing campaign sponsored across the drinks industry to help tackle binge drinking in our society by changing attitudes towards the social acceptability of drunkenness. It has been developed by a voluntary alliance of over 45 producers, on and off trade retailers, trade associations and media partners.

The campaign will work in conjunction and alongside other Government and industry initiatives including the Know Your Limits campaign around the Government’s recommended daily and weekly unit consumption. The Campaign is intended to run over a five year period with a value of at least £20 million each year over the five year period.

The campaign will also work in conjunction with Drinkaware, ensuring that the industry works with a partner who is already established as an independent, reliable and trustworthy source of information for consumers.  The relationship between the campaign and the government is laid out in the attached letter of understanding.

What is the goal?
The goal is to reduce public acceptance of drunkenness and to shift public attitudes in order to reduce excessive consumption for 18-34 year olds.  It aims to encourage young people to take responsibility for their own behaviour and to pose questions that encourage them to think about their drinking habits.  The campaign is working in conjunction with the Department of Health and Home Office to identify KPIs in order to measure the success of the campaign.

How will it work?
The campaign’s strap-line is: Why let good times go bad?  This question will form the basis of the campaign materials which will be presented in various forms: posters, in-store advertising, in bars and pubs, at point of sale, online and other locations.

It targets misuse (those who drink to excess on any given occasion) but in a way which is likely to resonate with consumers, by emphasising the benefits of responsible enjoyment, and offering practical hints and tips rather than telling them what to do and what not to do, which is an approach largely rejected by young adults in particular.

Drinkaware provides consumers with information to make informed decisions about the effects of alcohol on their lives and lifestyles. Its public education programmes, grants, expert information and resources help create awareness and effect positive change. An independent charity established in 2007 Drinkaware works with the medical profession, the alcohol industry, government and independent members to achieve its goals

1 July 2009 - Felicity Murray