I read Iain Murray’s article with some interest (MW last week). The facts he quotes are broadly correct, but in giving his opinion that the whole thing was a joke and that Bulmers UK’s response, among others, was an over-reaction, shows a complete misunderstanding of the concept of responsible drinks marketing and its relationship with the various self-regulatory codes under which we operate. Given that Murray is a respected commentator on marketing issues and that the UK model of self-regulation is generally regarded as global best practice, please allow me to enlighten you.
Most of the codes make it clear that the spirit of the code is as important as the letter. This is a specific measure designed to prevent some smart Alec finding a clever way round the rules. Humour cannot be used to circumvent a code: what would be the point of rules if they were that flimsy? In my view, the US Strongbow drip-mat was not only not very funny, but was highly irresponsible – which is why we went to such lengths to put the matter right. These codes are not just tokenism by an industry trying to keep politicians off its back. They are fundamentally the right and only way for responsible companies to behave.
If that makes me po-faced too, then fine.
Marketing services director