Diageo today unveiled details of its responsible drinking campaign in the UK, which will be delivered using the Smirnoff vodka brand.

The campaign, which was first broadcast in the US last year, is called "Congratulations" and is part of a half a million pound investment to promote a more sensible drinking culture in the UK.

The ads are also seen as an attempt by Diageo to convince the government and the industry's detractors that the UK's companies are more than able to regulate themselves over the question of responsible advertising.

The ads will run in 30-second slots across ITV, Channel Four, Channel Five and satellite channels. Over half the target audience of 18- to 34-year-olds will see the ad at least once.

Tony Mair, Diageo corporate affairs director said: "We believe that the launch of the new Smirnoff responsible drinking campaign marks a major step forward for the industry. We are seriously concerned about alcohol misuse and believe we have a role to play in educating consumers about ho to drink responsibly.

"Whilst we've started our social responsibility programme with this ad, we are ultimately looking for support within the industry to encourage responsible drinking amongst consumers. The industry now needs to make positive steps to change ingrained cultural behaviour."


Talking to just-drinks Mair admitted that it was important for the company to demonstrate its responsible attitude in order to head off calls for legislation in the UK over alcohol advertising.

"We need to demonstrate that we are quite capable of managing our industry sensibly," he said. "If we demonstrate a collective responsibility there will be no need for legislation."

He added: "Drinks suppliers act more responsibly than they are given credit for. It is an easier headline when someone misbehaves than when drinks companies conduct themselves responsibly."

The TV commercial features a couple -Hank and Cindy - enjoying a meal at a restaurant. They are approached by a man who is an old friend of Hank's, who upon hearing the couple are recently engaged, regales stories of Hank's past as a ladies' man, to the shock of his girlfriend. The ad finishes on the line, "Knowing when to stop is a good thing."

Mair said the company had contemplated other brands, including the Diageo name, as the brand behind the message but settled on Smirnoff because, "consumers have a quiet respect" for the vodka.

For a fuller analysis and further details of the interview with Tony Mair, see our report in the next week.