Drink Responsibly, Or Just Drink?

ResponsiblelogoA press release from Alcohol Justice claims that alcohol manufacturers are abusing the “drink responsibly” campaign. They are calling for more regulated advertising, and more restrictions instead.

According to this organization: Alcohol Justice reviewed “drink responsibly” messages in print ads in the September/October 2011 issues of forty-one different magazines that enjoy a high proportion of youth readership. They analyzed frequency, location, size, and content of beer, spirits and alcopops brand ads found in those publications, and compared the size of “drink responsibly” messages, if present, in the ads. 94% of the ads contained “drink responsibly” messages.

“We found numerous problems with the “drink responsibly” messages in our review,” stated Mart. “Messages blended into backgrounds so that they virtually disappeared, or were tiny in relation to the size of the entire ads. But the most obvious problem was that companies use the message to promote brands, loyalty, and drinking.”

At issue is whether “drink responsibly” is just another way of saying it’s OK to drink. From their perspective, it might be equivalent to recommending someone “shoplift responsibly” in the sense that drinking is harmful all by itself, adding the modifier doesn’t mean anything.

There’s certainly a population of AA members who would agree with this – at least insofar it applies to their own drinking history. There is no such thing as responsible drinking in AA. Drinking is drinking. How much of what is shown in ads reflects reality is what’s under dispute. Does the majority of drinking consist of bright-eyed, intelligent and successful people having interesting conversations while they barely sip a cocktail? Or is a more realistic picture one of a lonely, unemployable, depressed slob who can barely make it to the bathroom to puke?

Both sides spin the picture painted to an extreme, one happiness and fun, the other sadness and despair. There is a certainty though. No type of advertisement is going to keep an active drunk from his or her bottle.

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