that alcohol abuse comes with huge negative consequences is not in doubt, what is contentious however is whether alcohol advertising has direct bearing on amount consumed. across the globe,opinion s are divided whether alcohol advertising should be banned or regulated. to add its voice to the conversation, advertising practitioners council of nigeria (apcon) a in collaboration with stakeholders at a forum in lagos took a stand on the burning issue. kasie abone writes
Wine that gladdens the heart of man. Drink wine with a robust heart” says the Holy Bible. “Alcohol is better enjoyed ”scratching of hand bag” adds Tayo (surname withheld). For John Ajayi, publisher and CEO of Marketing Edge Magazine “alcohol drinking creates some bonding, relaxation and socialisation. It creates networking opportunities and reduces social tension.” If these positive attributes are the only consequences of alcohol consumption, then health and safety conscious campaigners globally would probably be campaigning for more creative ways of advertising more alcohol. Sadly, the reverse is the case. There is no doubt that there is high rate of alcohol abuse with attendant negative health and social consequences that has engendered serious global concern.
Consequences of alcohol consumption
There have been a number of empirical studies on the effects of tobacco and alcohol advertising globally. The bulk of these studies indicate that advertising does not increase tobacco and alcohol consumption. However, many public health advocacy organisations do not accept these results.
“Road traffic crashes are one of the main causes of injury and death worldwide, since some of such incidents involve alcohol-impaired drivers. Alcohol consumption impairs certain functions, such as visual acuity and reaction time, increasing the likelihood that accidents may occur. In crashes, four percent die every year due to alcohol consumption or its side effects, nine percent of those who die of alcohol are between fifteen and twenty nine years old. 2.5 million people die annually, and many more succumb to illness and injury, as a result of harmful alcohol use.” said Osita Chidoka, Corps Marshal and Chief Executive of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC) at a forum in Lagos recently.
Advertising and alcohol consumption
While some stakeholders are of the view that alcohol advertising only influences brand choice, many more are of the opinion that alcohol advertising influences people to drink more. They argue that brings out positive beliefs about drinking, boosts a sense of belonging, creates a mental picture that makes drinking fun and exciting; encourages young people to drink alcohol sooner and in greater quantities. In addition, it encourages drinkers to switch brands as well as tends to recruit new drinkers who want to associate with the life style of models depicted in the adverts.
Alcohol advertising across the globe
While some nations are calling for outright ban on alcohol advertising others advocate regulation of the content of the ad materials. In Islamic nations, alcohol advertising and consumption are restricted. .
In South Africa and UK, government and health officials are advocating for total ban on alcohol advertising and sponsorships; France, restricts the content of radio and print advertisements to specific elements; Norway and Sweden prohibit advertising to the public of alcoholic beverages over 2.5% alcohol by volume in Norway, and 3.5% in Sweden. In USA and South Africa measures are also being taken to control alcohol advertising and consumption.
In United States, spirits advertising has self-regulatory bodies that create standards for the ethical advertising of alcohol. Alcohol advertisements can only be placed in media where 70 percent of the audience is over the legal drinking age. Alcohol advertising’s creative messages should not be designed to appeal to people under the age of 21. Also US and Europe spirit makers are held to new set of advertising rules that forbids them from marketing on social media where the products are likely to be exposed to young adults.
In Hong Kong, alcohol advertising is not allowed to be shown during Family Viewing Hour programmes. U.S. and Europe, spirit makers are also held to a new set of self-regulatory guidelines for advertising and marketing on social networking sites and other digital media designed to prevent marketing their products to kids.
Sweden advertisements for alcohol are generally forbidden. But since 2005, newspapers have allowed advertisements for wine, and later for spirits, based on the provisions of an EU directive in spite of protests from Sweden government. Such ads contain warnings which are worded less strongly than the warnings on tobacco products
Nigeria: vibrant alcohol marketAlcohol market is the most vibrant and Nigeria is the biggest alcohol market in sub Saharan Africa. Nigerians are traditionally involved in social events; drinking and partying with alcohol. Consequently, alcohol markets grow in leaps and bounds only comparable to the GSM market. For instance, Nigeria Breweries Plc last financial year recorded a turnover of N230 billion, an operating profit of N56. 6 billion and N33 billion profit after tax. Its arch rival, Guinness Nigeria Plc also recorded an impressive outcome. The company’s audited results for the year ended 30 June 2012 show a net sales of N126.3 billion and an operating profit of N23 billion. The vibrancy of the market has attracted another global player, SAB Miller to invest in the sector. So far, the company has set up shop in Ibadan, Oyo State capital and Onitsha, the hub of business in Anambra State.
There is no gainsaying the fact that advertising, activation and promotions activities drove the gains of these two frontline breweries. The message they sale is that of life style and attitude. Sources say advert billing for NB plc alone hits about N5 billion mark.
Consequences of ban
Industry commentators highlight the potential loss of jobs and income of running into billions of Naira in advertising and sponsorships if alcohol advertising is banned. They also argue that a ban on alcohol advertising would not necessarily lead to a drop in consumption. According to Ajayi drinking is a matter of lifestyle and attitude. Imagine an Alaba trader who goes to a bar after hours to relax with his friends after a hard day’s job, advertising or no advertising, he will enjoy his beer.”
According to him, advertising speaks only to discerning minds. He reasoned that though advertising promotes equity of a brand those who have attitude for some products must consume it. Drinking and smoking are about attitude and lifestyle and not about advertising. Anything attitude is internalised, you just cannot stop it. Advertising is just for persuasion,” he emphasised.
Some stakeholders argue that the public debate on tobacco advertising should not dwell on the economics rather on health and social costs which they say outweigh any economic consideration as alcohol should not be seen as an economic issue rather a social one.
APCON, stakeholders position
However, Nigeria has officially joined the global community to add voice on the alcohol advertising campaign. APCON, the body regulating advertising in Nigeria, in collaboration with Beer Sectorial Group of MAN (BSG) and International Centre for Alcoholic Policies (ICAP) organised Alcohol Marketing and Marketing Communication Summit with the theme Management of the Potential Impact of Alcoholic beverage marketing and marketing communications on the society.
After exhaustive discussions on the theme and topics of the subject, the summit resolved among other issues to discourage the abuse or misuse of alcohol in the collective interest of stakeholders and with Nigerian public. They agreed that responsible marketing and marketing communications should discourage irresponsible consumption that could lead to anti-social behaviours and untimely death.
While agreeing that it is legitimate to produce, sell, promote and regulate, the stakeholders noted that sponsorship of youth programs that would affect minors and impressionable under the guise of CSR should not be allowed; regulation to address the issue of the content of sponsored materials vis display, consumption of alcohol products; Effective self regulation has to be embedded within a regulated and controlled framework as currently practised or upheld by APCON in a complementary manner. They are also of the opinion that there should not be any form of alcohol beverage marketing communications or sponsorship outside the watershed on broadcast media.
APCON was charged to gear up to play as a reference point of best practice for WFA in Africa in addition to address the issue of increasing growth and uses of social media and mobiles for advertising especially alcohol marketing communications.