Watchdog attacks responsibility message in alcohol ads


Alcohol Justice says that companies using the “Drink Responsibly” message in advertising their products are doing so cynically and ineffectively, using it more to burnish their own public image than anything else.

“Alcohol producers and marketers are more interested in their public relations than public health,” said Sarah Mart of Alcohol Justice. “So it’s not surprising that they hide behind a vague, ineffective slogan that does nothing to reduce the annual catastrophe of harm caused by their products.”

The group has produced a report that it says demonstrates the ineffectiveness of the “Drink Responsibly” tagline, and at the same time attacks advertisers for using slogans such as “Enjoy Heineken Responsibly.”

“Big Alcohol should stop disguising its alcohol promotion as a public service, and government should stop accepting the ‘drink responsibly’ charade at face value,” stated Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice. “We are asking today for State Attorney Generals to investigate the alcohol industry’s ‘drink responsibly’ messages as misleading and deceptive advertising.”

Mart pointed out that in magazine ads they looked at, the tagline was either very small, or blended into the background to make it less noticeable. At the same time, she said, “But the most obvious problem was that companies use the message to promote brands, loyalty, and drinking.”
RBR-TVBR observation: Can this message both be buried to the point of not being noticeable, and at the same time promote the company that buried it in the first place? If a company is using the line as part of its marketing program as charged, it would not obscure the message.

All we know is that in the world of broadcast advertising, every second counts, and in the world of print advertising, every pica counts. To our mind, it is much better that advertisers are including this message than to have no such message at all.