The Conversation Society – The UK Drinks Industry Entering a New Era of Responsibility…Part 2

Posted: June 7, 2011 in Food & Drink, Healthcare, Lifestyle, Public Relations

Last month saw The Conversation Society hosting our second debate, looking at the UK Drinks Industry and the Responsibility Deal.


First to talk from our excellent panel was David Poley, CEO, The Portman Group. David started by taking us on a trip down memory lane, where we remembered the campaigns of 20 years ago,  ‘George’ the Hoffmeister bear and the campaign which featured cartoon woodpeckers and the strapline ‘spend some time out of your tree’.

 But David then examined that these are examples from 20 years ago and we’ve since been on a long journey of gradual changes. We have seen a huge change in attitudes towards alcohol marketing.  What was considered safe is now considered irresponsible.  What was considered irresponsible is now, hopefully, not even considered.

David commented by saying “The industry is expected to go further.  To be proactive in educating, informing and influencing consumers into more responsible behaviour.” This has led to a new way of thinking in many drinks companies. So, now, bottles and cans routinely feature unit content information, responsible drinking guidelines and warnings against drinking during pregnancy. On drinks marketing, point-of-sale and on websites you’ll see references to Drinkaware and its website and of course, in the last few years we’ve launched the Drinkaware Trust.

We also now have the Responsibility Deal between industry and Government.  This is providing the impetus for companies to look at new ways that they can help tackle alcohol misuse and promote healthy lifestyles.  In return for this, the Government has resolved to resist imposing legislation in these areas.  The Responsibility Deal is therefore a good thing for industry and, I believe for society. 

David concluded by saying “But the Responsibility Deal is not the end of the journey.  Sooner or later, the industry will face fresh pressure in one area or another.  So my view is that we need to keep doing what we have been doing, to try and anticipate where public expectation is going and make sure that we’re doing all we can to act responsibly and meet that expectation.”


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