Speak up now – or risk being made invisible by alcohol ad ban


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WITH only a month left until the Scottish Government closes its consultation on restricting alcohol advertising and promotion, the industry has just begun to respond to the threat that alcohol could be made publicly invisible.

As SLTN went to press, several major players in the sector said that they were preparing responses to the consultation, which closes on March 9 – and appealed to everyone with a stake in the sector to have their say.

Respond HERE

The ScotGov consultation leaves no facet of current alcohol promotion strategies unchallenged.

From conventional advertising on screen and print, through to sports and cultural sponsorship, social media presence, branded clothing and even non-alcoholic tie-in desserts, every potential route to public visibility is identified in the consultation as something that could be closed down, if ScotGov concludes that there would be public support – and business acquiescence – for legislation to do so.

In her consultation foreword, Minister for Public Health Maree Todd MSP said: “By restricting alcohol marketing in Scotland we hope to reduce the appeal of alcohol to our young people.

“This will support a reduction in consumption of alcohol and subsequently improve their health and health prospects as adults. It will also reduce the potential triggering effect that alcohol marketing can have on heavy drinkers and those in recovery or treatment.

“Restricting alcohol marketing will also support our ambition to change our troubled relationship with alcohol. Your responses will help shape our next steps.”

A Scotch Whisky Association spokesman told SLTN: “We will be responding to the consultation on behalf of the industry, but are encouraging our member companies to respond directly to provide detail on the potential impacts to their businesses.”

From Diageo, another spokesperson said: “We are deeply concerned by the proposals to heavily restrict advertising and sponsorship across Scotland.

“They will do little to support those in need of help, while significantly impacting vital sectors, such as hospitality, tourism and sports. Along with the rest of the industry we will be responding to the consultation.”

A spokesperson for Tennent Caledonian Breweries said that it was ‘very likely’ that it would it would respond to the consultation.

However, the most detailed response so far has come from the other end of the industry scale, where Jason Clarke, creative director at Genius Brewing, identified a particular threat to ‘challenger’ brands if alcohol advertising goes dark.

“If new Scottish brands can’t advertise in Scotland, they can’t sell. No one knows they exist,” said Mr Clarke.

“Without advertising, consumers are left with a frozen-in-time oligopoly of established producers which weakens competition and puts an end to innovation.”

He continued: “The trend for more mindful, healthier drinking is growing, led by innovative new brands. How will Scotland’s drinkers discover new healthier options if they cannot be advertised?”

Finally, Mr Clarke questioned the whole direction of travel implicit in the ScotGov proposals.

“Why just ban alcohol advertising? Why not the advertising of all harmful products such as fast-food, sugar, ice-cream, or confectionery?

“Why not ban the advertising of motorbikes, given their terrible fatality rates?”