just the answer – Diageo CSR

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This month, Carolyn Panzer took up the position of corporate social responsibility director at Diageo, expanding her former remit as alcohol and responsibility director to cover all areas of Diageo's CSR platform.  In this month's just the answer, she speaks with Ben Cooper about recent changes to the Diageo Marketing Code, the rationale behind her new role and how she views the challenge ahead.

just-drinks: Diageo has recently revised its marketing code. Can you explain the thinking behind the changes you have made?

Carolyn Panzer: Diageo is committed to ensuring best practice in responsible marketing, so we periodically review our code and seek input from external stakeholders to make sure it's as good as it can be.

Our review was encouraging in that there weren't any fundamental issues with our approach. So the new code is really an evolution that builds on the last version. Most of the changes relate to codifying and clarifying already existing guidance.

So for example, responsible drinking reminders are required in all above-the-line advertising. Responsible drinking elements are required in sponsorships.

We clarified requirements and accountabilities around compliance because a code is only as effective as its compliance and its enforcement. We're now requiring the use of our online approval tool, smartapprove, where it's up and running. This online resource really facilitates the sign-off of all of our marketing materials.

j-d: You have made some changes regarding digital media. Can you expand on this?

CP: We have a separate digital code, so we took the DMC [Diageo Marketing Code] principles that were in the digital code and embedded them in the marketing code to clarify that this code also applies to digital channels.

So it requires gateway pages, age affirmations, we have our sites nanny-tagged so that parental software can pick up the content of our websites and block where appropriate, and the 70% standard of course applies to digital.

j-d: Regarding the 70% rule, campaigners say popular programmes with a 70%-plus adult audience can have a larger underage audience in actual numbers than many dedicated children's programmes. What is your view on this issue?

CP: The 70% standard has become a global standard for most international drinks companies. In the US, the Federal Trade Commission was looking at whether or not that was an adequate standard. In Europe they were looking at whether or not that was an adequate standard. The result of all those consultations is that 70% is a good and adequate standard.

So there have been discussions, I'm sure there will be ongoing discussions about that demographic number, but for the time being it seems to satisfy stakeholder requirements.

j-d: How is the project progressing?  What do you consider to be its main strengths?

CP: It's really been a massive project but it's going well. As of last month, we have the global site and we have sixteen localised sites in local language with tailored material.

It's a site that's a resource for everyone with an interest in sharing tools and resources to combat alcohol abuse. This includes educators, parents, law enforcement and retailers. Rather than creating another corporate website, we really wanted an interactive, multimedia platform to highlight all the excellent work being done by so many people in the field.

Carolyn Panzer, corporate social responsibility director at Diageo

It's early days but so far we have had good stakeholder feedback. We did take the site in its formative stages to various external stakeholders to get their input.

The site has been live longest in the US, and we have had a good response. Many control states have posted programmes. Montgomery County has actually used drinkiq to host their programmes. Recording Artists against Drunk Driving have posted materials.

j-d: Where is it already live, where are you launching next and what is the eventual aim in terms of international coverage?

CP: In the US, we have the English site and we are shortly going to be launching a Spanish language site in the US.

We have sites in Great Britain, Ireland, Australia, Spain, Jamaica, Canada, and in Canada we have an English and French language version, Russia, South Africa, China, Taiwan, Nigeria, Germany, India, Singapore and East Africa.

And this autumn we'll be adding Greece, Korea, Brazil, Colombia, Venezuela and Italy. Our target is around 20 to 25 markets.

j-d: What are the benefits of it being a global concept?

CP: For Diageo, the main benefit is it's a consistent platform to state our approach to responsible drinking. But I think more importantly for the users, they can explore programmes and initiatives not only from their countries but from around the world.

So the idea is that if you're a police officer in Mumbai looking for an anti-drive-drive programme you can see what law enforcement programmes might exist in Manhattan or Melbourne.

j-d: To what degree does answer concerns that companies are doing more on responsible drinking in developed countries than in emerging markets?

CP: Diageo has programmes in 45 markets around the world. For example, our 'Guardian Angel' [designated drivers] campaign was launched in Venezuela three years ago, and since then it's run in 14 more countries in Latin America and Asia. Our Johnnie Walker 'Join the Pack' anti-drink-drive campaign runs in Formula 1 markets in Asia, Europe, Eastern Europe [and] Latin America. So we are absolutely active in developing markets.

j-d: How important is it for a company like Diageo to use its skills as a marketer and its consumer insights to encourage responsible consumption?

CP: At Diageo our marketing colleagues are absolutely true partners in this. And in fact they drive our responsible drinking agenda as much as any other department.

We have undertaken consumer insight work into responsible drinking in all of our major regions, and I absolutely believe it will only improve our campaigns and initiatives.

We like to treat responsible drinking as a brand in and of itself. We are now seeking to embed those insights into our approaches across all of our markets

j-d: What precisely is the scope of your enlarged role?

CP: This role brings together alcohol policy, responsible marketing, responsible drinking, community investment, and external reporting across a whole range of sustainability issues from environmental to social to economic.

j-d: So will Diageo's responsible drinking platform be stronger as a result of being brought together with all the other CSR activities?

CP: Stakeholders don't see our work in alcohol in society, community investment or environmental impact in isolation and neither do we. The benefit of creating this new corporate social responsibility department is that it brings a holistic approach to understanding and improving our societal and environmental impacts, and it will absolutely help us build a sustainable business, that endures for the long term.

j-d: Given that your focus was purely on alcohol and responsibility before, is your attention going to be diverted from that important area?

CP: No. I always have had and will continue to have a passion for responsible drinking and alcohol in society issues, but it's not about me.

We still have a whole alcohol in society platform. It remains a key priority for us.  We have a network of people throughout the company in every region that look after responsible drinking and all of this agenda.

But - or and - we are going to be looking at that as part of our holistic footprint.

j-d: It sounds like a challenging brief. What are you relishing most about the challenge ahead?

CP: I'm excited about it, excited about working with my colleagues throughout the world, excited about finding synergies and leverage between all the different pillars of what we do in society.

I'm looking forward to gaining more experience, refining our strategy, finding new partnerships, telling our story in a compelling way, but most importantly, continuing to innovate. So it's a great opportunity and I'm very excited.

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