Drinks firms more alert to responsible marketing

Alcohol industry body The Portman Group says that drinks producers are becoming more aware of the importance of socially responsible marketing after reporting a 40% jump in requests for advice last year.

In its annual report, the group says its code advisory service received 356 requests for help last year from marketers wanting campaigns vetted, up from 250 in 2008.

The alcohol industry has come under pressure from politicians and health bodies in the past 12 months. The cross party Health Select Committee called for statutory regulation of alcohol advertising after claiming the current self-regulatory system was insufficient, while the British Medical Association called for an outright ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorship.

The Department of Health is consulting on proposals including forcing drinks makers to include health warnings on labels after stating the compliance rate on the current voluntary agreement is “disappointing”.

David Poley, chief executive of the group, which is funded by eight of the biggest drinks makers in the UK, says the increase in demand for its advisory service shows “the growing importance of social responsibility”.

“Companies want to protect their brand, corporate and industry reputations,” he adds.

The Portman Group also says seven complaints were made to the Independent Complaints Panel under its code on the naming, packaging and promotion of alcoholic drinks last year, down from 21 in 2008. Among brands accused of irresponsible marketing was Brewdog’s 18.2% strength Tokyo beer.

The 2008 figure was inflated by an additional 10 complaints about “potentially rogue” products made by management consultancy PIPC following an independent audit.

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