Alcohol brands step up efforts for Drinkaware

Drinkaware: alcohol campaign
Drinkaware: alcohol campaign

Alcohol brands and retailers are set to ramp up marketing in support of the £100m Drinkaware responsible-drinking campaign, despite indications from the government that it wants to pool these activities within the Change4Life anti-obesity drive.

Now entering its second year, the 'Why let good times go bad?' initiative is funded by 45 companies from the alcoholic drinks industry, including Diageo, Carlsberg and Heineken UK, as well as supermarkets including Tesco and Asda.

Drinkaware has appointed brand communications agency 23red to handle partnership marketing, campaign implementation and evaluation for the initiative.

Avis Johns, director of external affairs at The Drinkaware Trust, said the appointment was "an important addition to a campaign that seeks to change the drinking habits of young adults".

Launching in September, the next tranche of activity will span on-pack, point of sale and outdoor, as well as advertising in outlets selling alcoholic beverages.

Aimed at 18- to 30-year-olds, executions will offer drinkers practical advice on how to stay in control and enjoy their night responsibly.

The campaign was conceived three years ago, when then prime minister Gordon Brown challenged the industry to band together for a joint marketing campaign.

In opposition, the Conservatives' Andrew Lansley suggested merging Change4Life with the drinks-focused campaign. Now health secretary, he has reiterated his wish, much to the consternation of food and drinks brands.

In a speech to the Faculty of Public Health annual conference last week, Lansley revealed he intends to slash government financial support for the £75m Change4Life campaign.

He called for brands to bridge the gap and turn in-kind funding into financial backing and indicated the reward for this would be a lighter-touch regulatory regime, provoking outrage among the NGO sector.

Business4Life, a consortium of brands including Kraft, Mars and Unilever that works with Change4Life, pledged to make a £200m-in-kind contribution in 2008. However, the group has admitted it has no idea how Lansley's new plan will work.

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