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Impact Seminar Snapshot: Menezes Urges Responsibility Drive With Industry-Wide “Call To Action”

March 21, 2014

While beverage alcohol industry leaders have emphasized responsible consumption of their products in recent years, the sector continues to face intense scrutiny from government agencies, NGOs and other critics. At the Impact Marketing Seminar, held on Thursday, March 20 in New York, Diageo chief executive Ivan Menezes urged some of the industry’s biggest players to ramp up their efforts in the fight against alcohol misuse with a global call to action.

“Addressing misuse is central to our business, because we understand the consequences—damage to our communities and consumers,” said Menezes, who lauded major responsibility commitments made in recent years by SABMiller, Beam, Brown-Forman, Bacardi, Pernod Ricard and AB-InBev, among others. “It’s not only good for our business—it’s the right thing to do.”

Last year, Diageo implemented a new five-year pledge to reduce underage drinking and drinking and driving, as well as strengthen marketing codes of practice, provide consumer information and responsible product innovation and enlist the support of retailers to curb harmful drinking. The initiative is expected to reduce global alcohol misuse by 10%.

In his speech, Menezes encouraged the industry to listen to and engage with critics, and also widen its reach with more partnerships, better communications and larger, more impactful responsibility programs. “We should always be our own sternest critics. We still have work to do,” he said.

In related news, the Federal Trade Commission released a report yesterday commending the U.S. Distilled Spirits Council’s (DISCUS) advertising code and dedication to high standards and strict compliance in addressing the new media landscape. In particular, the FTC highlighted DISCUS’s 71.6 percent 21+ standard for new advertising purchases and its guidelines for marketing practices on digital media and provisions related to privacy, among other initiatives. Self-regulatory systems “are most effective when consumers and competitors take advantage of them and submit complaints, as demonstrated by the DISCUS experience,” the FTC added.

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