Alcopop review written by 12-year-old named year’s worst alcohol advertising

This was covered by The Guardian in September and was looking at a review of alcohol advertising in Australia.  And this image pretty much sums it up, although it uses humour to vocalise my utter despair.  A laugh or cry moment ……..

implied facepalmA review of a two-litre cask of pineapple punch-flavoured Vodka Cruiser (alcopop) on the website of a major alcohol retailer apparently written by a 12-year-old – who described the drink as having a “gr8 flava” and as being good value for money – has been named the worst alcohol advertisement of 2014-15.  “Had a sip on my 12th birthday, went off my head,” the review on the Dan Murphy’s website, which has since been removed by the retailer, read.

The Alcohol Advertising Review Board (AARB) released its annual report on Monday at parliament house in Canberra, highlighting the most troubling of the 165 complaints it received in the past year, 92 of which were upheld in full.

Large alcohol advertisements on bus shelters located just outside of school gates; a social media promotion by Thirsty Camel bottle-shops advertising for a ‘minister for thirst’; and the Instagram accounts of various alcohol brands which can be followed by children were also highlighted in the report.

Guardian Australia has contacted Thirsty Camel for comment. A spokeswoman for Dan Murphy’s said the review was removed as soon as it was brought to the attention of the online staff, and that “state-of-the-art filters to automatically remove inappropriate content from product reviews” had been added to prevent similar reviews from being posted in future.

The AARB, run by health organisations, is chaired by paediatric epidemiologist Fiona Stanley and reviews complaints from the public based on the Alcohol Advertising Review Board.

It was established as an alternative to the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC), which is run by the Brewers Association of Australia and New Zealand, the Distilled Spirits Industry Council of Australia and the Winemakers Federation of Australia.

The ABAC voluntary system of self-regulation was ineffective, with many alcohol companies ignoring young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising and ABAC unable to penalise companies in breach of the code, the AARB report said.

For the third successive year, AARB received more complaints about alcohol advertising than ABAC had, the report said.

But ABAC chair Alan Ferguson said there was no need for further restrictions to the code because it had been strengthened in 2014 in response to changes in community standards.

ABAC also pre-vetted ads before they went out to the public, Ferguson said, with more than 1,000 ads scrutinised last year before being aired. The industry maintained a high standard of social responsibility, he added.

He said that while he respected the people on the board of AARB, that they were all from the health field was potentially problematic.

“They’re only looking at the issue from a certain point of view,” Ferguson said, adding that the Responsible Alcohol Marketing Code was robust.

The director of the McCusker Centre for Alcohol on Action and Youth, Professor Mike Daube, described Ferguson’s comments as “appallingly complacent”.

“Anyone who thinks the alcohol industry maintains high levels of social responsibility is living in a parallel universe,” Daube said.

“The statement doesn’t defend the way kids are exposed to massive alcohol promotion because there is no defence.”

Launching the report, the CEO of the Public Health Association of Australia, Michael Moore, said alcohol companies defended self-regulation because they knew it did not work.

“Industry self-regulation didn’t work for tobacco and it doesn’t work for alcohol,” Moore said.

“It’s time to legislate so that there are controls that work.”

Governments must legislate to place restrictions on alcohol companies and their advertising to protect children in particular from alcohol-related harms, AARB found. Companies could not be compelled to adhere to codes of conduct and did not suffer consequences for breaches.

An independent national survey of 1,098 people conducted by AARB in July and commissioned by the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth found 72% of Australians supported legal controls to reduce young people’s exposure to alcohol advertising. Only 10% opposed alcohol advertising being phased out of sport, while 76% agreed alcohol advertising should be limited on television to late-night programming.

A loophole in the current Free TV code meant alcohol advertisements could be broadcast during live sporting events on weekdays and public holidays, the report found, with up to 19% of the viewing audience for major sporting events in the past year under the age of 18.

Liberal backbencher Sharman Stone, Greens leader Richard Di Natale and Labor MP Melissa Parke endorsed the report at its launch on Thursday.

Stone criticised voluntary codes of conduct for the industry and called for tougher restrictions on advertising and labelling on products.

“Why are we still so captured by the alcohol industry?” she said.

Why are we indeed Sharman? What do you think?

PS This article also features an embedded link to the article I wrote for The Guardian too 🙂