This week, is looking at, and of course reviewing, alcohol awareness campaigns, particularly those of the different alcoholic beverage companies, as part of Alcohol Responsibility Week. The Editor, Neelan, asked me to take a look at the Reality Check campaign by SAB (South African Breweries –for those of you who are unaware of the alcohol world; or alternatively, not all that clued up).

Reality Check, at first glance, is a fantastic campaign; however, at a second, or third glance, one starts to realise that it’s nothing particularly major, in fact, I would go as far as to say that it probably encourages quite a bit of drinking.

Why the negative attitude, you may ask?

Well, first of all, I am natural born skeptic. An open-minded skeptic, let me add; but nonetheless, a skeptic, always suspicious about something that seems a little too good to be true.

My first reason for pessimism is that the advertisements of the campaign are aimed at a rather educated audience. Even for the educated, the adverts come across rather vague in message at times. An understanding of rhetorical is needed, in order to grasp the message behind the advertisement. If we had to look at the well-educated versus the lesser-educated, in South Africa, and draw a comparison between which party struggles more with alcoholism, I think we would find that the latter would come out tops. If a lesser-educated person, having a few drinks saw the message, “One more won’t hurt” with the SAB logo in the corner, I do believe that it would cause some sort of encouragement to that individual to continue drinking.

The next reason of mine for becoming pessimistic about this campaign comes in the form of a question, “Where do we see these advertisements?”

I’ve seen one, in the form of a billboard, next to a train station, and a few advertisements on the tellie. That’s it. I’m assuming they have been placed in magazines; and only because I’ve done research on this campaign for do I know that they had radio advertisements too. I work in radio, and I haven’t heard them, ever. Are these mediums enough though? I strongly believe that SAB should appeal to clubs, bars, gigs, events and restaurants to place the campaign in their venue. Smokers have to deal with it on a daily basis –why should people who drink alcohol not have to? Besides, alcohol abuse is more lethal to those around you, than smoking is.

Lastly, on the SAB website, they list six values that their company abides by. If you know the beer scene in South Africa, and the truth of the how people enjoy the SAB products, then join with me in laughter at these:

  1. Our beer adds to the enjoyment of life for the overwhelming majority of our consumers
  2. We care about the harmful effects of irresponsible alcohol consumption
  3. We engage stakeholders and work collectively with them to address irresponsible consumption
  4. Alcohol consumption is for adults and is a matter of individual judgment and accountability
  5. Information provided to consumers about alcohol consumption should be accurate and balanced
  6. We expect our employees to aspire to high levels of conduct in relation to alcohol consumption

The SAB campaign to create responsible drinkers, in my humble opinion, is just something to please government and the powers that be. They can say what they want about the campaign, saying that it is sincere, and blah, blah, blah; but at the end of the day, has that message ever caught you -when you’re out drinking? Has it made you think, “I guess I should slow down, or stop”? No, it hasn’t, because all this campaign is, is a glass-ceiling. It’s there. But you don’t see it. Why? Because SAB would lose way too much money if people started drinking responsibly. Just imagine it, if all drinkers had to say, “Sorry mate, I’ve had two beers. That’s me done for the evening!”

Enjoy the long weekend responsibly, and please, think twice before having another drink.

…so you think you’re invincible?

Don’t Drink and Drive…

Jonathan Duguid (@TheDramaKing)

  • We will never escape this dominance of this alcohol industry in our market. There is just too many people in their pockets. Even the government benefits. Can they really make a change?

  • Bronwyn May

    I think many ad campaigns run on many different mediums but it is not very intelligent to assume that those consumers who have seen the print ad have heard the radio ad that goes with it and visa versa. Some campaigns give enough information to stand alone as a print, but that does not mean they all can. You should NEVER assume your market will just know and a campaign is about educating your consumers not selling your product or your brand. I agree that companies should advertise the effects of drinking and driving in places where people are going to be drinking or purchasing alcoholic beverages. Once again, a campaign is about educating your consumers not worrying about sales.

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