Alcohol Concern is a socio-political prohibitionist campaign that masquerades as a charity (enjoying all the benefits that charitable status brings while doing very little that actually seems charitable), and rather shamefully has the ear of the British government – control freaks of the right and left both only too keen to listen to the hysterical and often factually dubious claims that the organisation makes.
As well as pushing for more restrictive legislation (minimum pricing, higher taxes, warning labels, restrictions on advertising), Alcohol Concern also take any opportunity they can to attack individual booze producers who might try to make their product look attractive. They will complain regularly to the likes of the Advertising Standard Authority (ASA – which, despite its name, has no statutory powers) and The Portman Group – the alcohol industry’s own watchdog – is anyone breaks the ridiculous rules around alcohol promotion. In the last week, they’ve lost two cases – but don’t think that will stop them pursuing more.
In the first, they complained to the Portman Group that Heineken’s special edition Spectre bottle (produced as a promotion with the James Bond film of the same title) promoted the idea that drinking led to sexual success, and encouraged violence and immoderate drinking – the argument being that James Bond was known for his legendary shagging and consumption of copious vodka martini’s, and is pictured holding a gun. So clearly, the grown (male) adults buying this beer would immediately take to the streets, pistol in hand and tanked up, screwing every woman they came across. Of course, drinking often does play a part in sexual and social success – but we are not allowed to acknowledge that. We are not even allowed to acknowledge the idea that drinking might be fun.
The complain was thrown out, but the Portman Group (who are hardly a liberal or sensible body) still felt the need to issue a quote saying “It is important for all producers to be mindful that the images they use on their products, however well-known, do not promote violent behaviour; immoderate consumption or sexual success. The Portman Group’s free advisory service is always on hand to support producers, visit our website for their contact details.” Oh, shut up you tedious prigs.
A week later, the ASA also let Alcohol Concern down, by judging that another Heineken promotion – this time a Bulmers competition giving away Converse trainers – would have “particular appeal to people under 18 years of age”. Because clearly, only under 18’s wear trainers. The fact that the competition was only open to over-18’s didn’t seem to matter, and why should it – these malicious complaints are more about disrupting the companies being targeted than they are serious concerns.
Now, if Alcohol Concern were complaining about Bulmer’s encouraging people to wear trainers on a fashion basis, we might have more sympathy for them…