Brewer's Droop #264

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So Matron and her Stormtroopers have woken up and are putting renewed pressure on the advertising and liquor industries in demanding to know how much is being spent on advertising and sponsorships.

It’s a stupid request because the information’s available to anyone who cares to look. Until a couple of years ago South Africa had the best research tool known in the world (All Media Products Survey) which interviewed massive numbers of people, so we knew a great deal about their habits and brand consumption. Sadly that’s no longer available – but there are plenty of other sources.

The Southern African Alcohol Policy Alliance (SAAPA) has been actively lobbying government to get a move on with the “Liquor Amendment Bill”. Part of this bill’s aims is to ban ads for alcohol on TV and Radio.

Most of the defenders of drinking (i.e. anti the bill) always seem to quote “loss of revenue” as their first line of defence/attack.

That’s where they go wrong.

For the record however, the research company Econometrics reported, in 2013 that advertising revenue would drop by R4.38 billion. The SABC could lose half a billion Rands, Dstv R440 million and eTV R300 million. Commercial radio stations could lose R55 million and metropolitan radio stations R45 million. Of course those figures may have increased since then.

But that’s not really the point is it? What needs to be done is to reduce the amount of alcohol we consume. And what’s the best solution all these organisations and government departments can come up with?………..

SAAPA’s answer is to BAN advertising. It won’t work.

They should firstly look at the spectacular failure of banning tobacco advertising. Now, it’s true that the numbers of smokers has decreased (although I find that hard to believe – I notice a lot of smokers at social events and mostly they’re young).

What did work well was to limit the places where smoking is permitted. It makes far more sense than banning the ads.

There are just under 1 billion smokers in the world and it’s climbing. In SA it appears that the number of smokers has dropped by 5%. It’s hardly very impressive chaps – so get thinking and come up with some smart ideas to stop kids from taking up the habit (and wrapping all cigarette packs in plain brown paper ain’t going to do the job so forget about that).

SA is number 20 on the list of countries who drink the most alcohol. Now that is high I grant you, but banning broadcasting of alcoholic ads is not going to work. I assume that sports sponsorships will also be affected which means less development in that area of entertainment too.

I was once in a TV debate with an idiot who genuinely believed that a 12 year old watching cricket and seeing a beer’s name on a player’s shirt would be sufficient to induce him to go and take one of his dad’s beers out of the fridge. Madness.

Banning booze ads will not reduce the number of drinkers in SA.

Some of these Mother Grundies cite Foetal Alcohol Syndrome as the reason we should stop pregnant women drinking and I agree entirely. But banning the advertising of Chivas Regal on TV is not going to stop one single mother. It isn’t the advertising that’s encouraging her, it’s depression born out of poverty- until we get that under control they’ll soon be turning to meths because booze prices will increase.

Having said all that, the bill also wants to raise the legal drinking age to 21. Now that makes much more sense than banning, wouldn’t you agree? Sadly we’re not very good at enforcing these laws are we.

Our Minister of Health should be concentrating on getting more funds for hospitals and medical training. I’m not saying that drinking isn’t a serious problem but we have bigger ones to face right now.

I wish I could remember the name of that professor (the idiot I mentioned earlier) I had an argument with during a TV debate and the various other crackpots I’ve had arguments with. But I guess the single malts have deleted their names from my memory.

But the point is that very few people actually listen to your ravings – the general feeling among the friends of mine (both within and without the ad industry) just think you’re loonies.

For sure, something has to be done to stop the abuse of nicotine, alcohol and mind-altering substances but when your only plan is to ban the advertising (NB: not the product you’ll notice) then I just sigh and think “is that really the best you can think of? Really?” Barman I’ll have another Aberlour please.

How about running some seriously professional and interesting programmes about how smoking makes you age prematurely and how alcohol abuse really will cost a lot of money and pain? Drag some celebrities on to talk about the vanities of men and women – don’t bother showing them pictures of diseased lungs on packs of fags. You have to be clever – brief some really good agencies and PR companies to sort out the problem. I can give you a list of the best ones but please, please don’t listen to Matron.

If the Cabinet passes this bill it will accomplish nothing. The Liquor Amendment Bill is now before them for deliberation.

Then they’ll look around for something else to ban.

Oh well, on the bright side, we’re getting rain so that’s good news.



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  1. I think that professor could have been Yusef Samojee (apologies for the spelling) but I may be wrong. He’s not such a bad speaker but a terrible listener.

    • Sorry Mike, but the guy I was with talked absolute poppycock and definitely didn’t listen to a single word anyone else said.

  2. I can’t agree with you about it making any kind of sense to raise the drinking age to 21. You can legally have an abortion at 12 without any reference to your parents, but let’s not give a legal adult a glass of white wine? Pah! The problem is that we enact laws (like no drinking till 18, or the blood alcohol limit for driving, or any number of laws) and then fail to enforce them. Instead, legislators sit in their ivory towers and make the laws more draconian. How is that going to help? How about raiding clubs, pubs and shebeens for underage kids every Friday and Saturday night across SA? Yes, more difficult to implement that holding advertisers accountable, but if you really want to stop kids drinking, deal with the kids who are, not with the population as an entirety.

    And while they’re at it, let’s have a whole lot more roadblocks for drunk driving. Doesn’t matter if the limit is 0,05 or 0,08 if you never get asked to blow into the bag.

    • Ann, I don’t necessarily agree with raising the age limit. What I meant is that it makes more sense than banning the advertising.

  3. Wouldn’t it be grand if the focus could also be on reducing drunk driving and improving road safety? Carry on advertising alcohol, but with the message to NOT DRIVE. The carnage on our roads just gets worse and worse. How much does it cost our economy?
    I think the Australians have some fantastic public services ad campaigns.

  4. A ‘before and after’ campaign with celebrities might work. Proof of boozey bloating makes it all very real…Robbie Williams said once that ‘booze makes you fat and ugly’…maybe he could champion the cause.

  5. They should just do what the British do, tax the hell out of alcohol and tobacco, but, send all these tax contributions straight to the healthcare system.

    In effect is like a “layby” for a new liver or lungs…not to mention all the trauma caused by alcohol in car/pedestrian accidents and the like.

    I do not think it will reduce consumption and abuse but at least the drinkers and smokers “pay their way” somewhat as to the toll they add to the health system.

    Off for my £4.00 pint now…

    • Makes sense in the UK with one government-funded NHS


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