UK: Drinks industry to spend £100m on tackling binge drinking

16 July, 2009

The UK’s alcoholic drinks industry is to spend £100 million on trying to dissuade young people from getting drunk

The UK’s alcoholic drinks industry has announced that a £100 million “social marketing campaign” to try and encourage young people to be more responsible about drinking alcohol and getting drunk.

The initiative is believed to be the largest ever media spend on a responsible drinking campaign. More than 45 companies are involved in the “Campaign for Smarter Drinking”, It is being down in partnership with the Drinkaware charity and the UK 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. The message/strapline is: “Why let good times go bad?”

The thinking behind ‘Smarter Drinking’ is emphasise the benefits of responsible enjoyment and offer practical tips such as drink water or soft drinks between consuming alcohol, eating food which slows absorption and plan to get home safely. The key strategy is not to talk down to young adults and even less – tell them what to do.

Jonathan Neame, chief executive, Shepherd-Neame and signatory of Campaign for Smarter Drinking, said: “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.”

Home Secretary Alan Johnson said: “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.”

Commander Simon O'Brien Metropolitan Police and The Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) lead on Alcohol Licensing said: “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 UK 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.