There’s growing concern, and a fair amount of hand wringing, about alcohol advertising and the possibility of banning it. It looks like the glory days of inventive, witty and satirical booze advertising may be over for good. This would be very, very sad. Ban them and yes, you’ll get column inches. Keep them and you’ll bring thousands of people joy.
There have been some hugely influential, wonderful and funny booze adverts over the years – just think of the often-surreal Guinness campaigns, or of Carling and Heineken’s best efforts. It would be a terrible shame to lose these creative campaigns and some of the minds behind them to a health and safety-regulated puritanical streak.
It seems to me that the campaign to ban the booze ads is little more than a PR exercise designed to sidestep the sort of potential legal claims that the tobacco industry have been dealing with. There are better ways of reducing binge drinking – heavy fines and policemen empowered to breathalyse people whether they are driving or not would be a start, as would fixing the price of alcohol in the supermarkets. If a drunken lout is arrested and is found to be over the limit apply heavy penalties and heavy fines of £1000 and more. This should apply equally to people driving home from the pub after a few too many, whether they’ve hurt someone or not.
But banning the advertising would a terrible shame – the effects of the adverts are often as pleasurable than the drink they’re selling. Good advertising is something to enjoy, in much the same way as a fine wine, a good whisky, a chilled lager or a well kept ale; sparingly. Everything in moderation – including booze advertising!