By: Chris Brook-Carter - 2 December 2003 15:43
The alcoholic drinks industry has long cried foul whenever any of its opponents have tried to liken it to the tobacco sector. However, it appears not everyone has been listening and the similarities between how the opponents of the two industries have approached their work is growing.
As the debate about whether legislation should be introduced to curb the advertising freedoms of the UK and US drinks industries continues, news in Germany that the government may introduce extra taxation on RTDs, to discourage under age drinking, has cast a shadow over that sector (albeit a small one given the size of the market).
A far darker cloud is threatening to rain on the perceived recovery of the US drinks market, with news last week that a handful of the country’s leading players are facing a lawsuit accused of deliberately targeting under age drinkers with advertising.
Some of the wrongdoings levelled at the companies are indeed preposterous – one company stands accused of using a young-looking model in its ads. Although I have heard she was in fact 30 when the ads were shot.
That said, the industry cannot afford to take these developments lightly. A number of independent analysts and even a fair few supporters of the drinks world have been warning for some time that while the letter of various marketing codes around the world is adhered to, the spirit of those codes is often pushed to the very limits.
Before the sentiment against them gains further momentum, drinks companies should take this as a wake-up call and do all they can to secure themselves firmly on the moral high ground.
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