Alcohol Truth

Alcohol Truth is a Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education campaign that puts the facts at the forefront of discussion on alcohol. Alcohol Truth explores alcohol industry efforts to counter evidence-based strategies to tackle alcohol harm in Australia.

Case Study #1

The issue

Earlier in September DrinkWise released a new campaign ‘You won’t miss a moment if you DrinkWise’. DrinkWise indicated that the campaign ‘continues the DrinkWise approach of affirming the importance of moderation, of drinking properly and of getting the facts about the alcohol consumption’.

Not a public health campaign

Public education campaigns on alcohol are needed in Australia to provide information to the general public about the harms that result from alcohol consumption and ways that people can reduce these harms. However these DrinkWise ads do neither of these things, instead looking more like a beer advertisement, even including the Carlton United logo.

Who is DrinkWise?

DrinkWise is a Social Aspects Public Relations Organisation (SAPRO) established by the alcohol industry in 2005. DrinkWise is wholly funded by the alcohol industry and governed by a board whose 13 members include 6 alcohol industry representatives.

DrinkWise describes itself as an ‘independent, not-for-profit organisation’ whose ‘primary focus is to help bring about a healthier and safer drinking culture in Australia’. However DrinkWise was developed by the alcohol industry, is wholly funded by the alcohol industry and is governed by a board with significant industry involvement.

What is a SAPRO?

Social Aspects Public Relations Organisations, or SAPRO’s, are often established by industries like tobacco, gambling and alcohol at a global, regional and national level to ‘manage issues that may be detrimental to its interests, particularly in areas that overlap with public health’. They exist to deflect consideration of evidence based public health policies that may affect their bottom line.

As the name suggests, SAPRO’s serve as a public relations tool for their industry funders, by undertaking big activities with limited impact, to provide the impression that their industry funders are committed to improvements in public health outcomes. At the same time these organisations talk down the effectiveness of evidence-based policies.

Historically in Australia, SAPRO’s were used by the tobacco industry to demonstrate its commitment to ‘independent’ tobacco research as it tried to defend its interests and prevent tobacco control legislation.

FARE responds with ‘DrinkWise: The making of a beer ad’

This video draws attention to the deficiencies of the new advertisement and highlights the true nature of DrinkWise; an organisation run and financed by an industry that is responsible for significant harm.

For a campaign apparently about keeping the event in focus and not the drinking, the advertisement does a fine job of keeping the spotlight tightly focussed on both. That’s what a top ad agency and an alcohol industry with deep pockets can achieve. It’s a great advertisement for beer, but it’s absolutely not a health promotion campaign, regardless of how DrinkWise want to spin it.”

Michael Thorn, Chief Executive, FARE

The alcohol industry-funded and controlled body DrinkWise has been criticised for producing a blatant beer commercial thinly disguised as a public health message. The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) claims DrinkWise has given up all pretence of being a health promotion organisation with its latest campaign which launches ahead of this weekend’s AFL Grand Final.