Drinks manufacturers and the advertising industry were mustering
forces to fend off a Government attack against the advertising of
alcopops this week.
The issue moved centre stage after the new licensing minister, George
Howarth, admitted that he was sceptical about drinks manufacturers’
compliance with their voluntary codes and refused to rule out a total
ban on advertising.
His views echo those of the Health Education Authority, which is worried
that alcopops are being marketed to underage drinkers.
The Advertising Standards Authority code prevents alcohol ads appearing
in any publication where more than 25 per cent of the audience is under
18, and agencies must not cast people who are under 25, or look under
25, in ads for alcohol clients.
Caroline Crawford, the director-general of external affairs at the ASA,
claimed: ’Criticism of the ads is inappropriate because the problem lies
more with the packaging, PR, and editorial coverage of alcoholic
carbonates. There are already strict rules governing the advertising of
David Poley, the head of policy at the Portman Group, the drinks
industry-funded marketing watchdog, added: ’Advertising is a soft
target, and the Government needs to look at wider issues such as
enforcement of the laws surrounding the sales of alcoholic drinks. The
problems of underage drinking won’t go away if alcopops do.’