The Scottish Government and Alcohol Advertising

The Scottish Government and Alcohol Advertising

Since BrewDog is supposedly responsible for the downfall of Western civilisation you can't blame us for wanting to keep an eye on what the real forces of evil are up to.

With that in mind, we're keen to stay up to date with alcohol legislation in Scotland, the UK and beyond and what better place to do so than the home of our good friend Jack Law - Alcohol Focus Scotland.

It's here we stumbled across an article on Scotland's First Youth Commission on Alcohol; a year long investigation that – amongst other recommendations – is now calling for a ban on alcohol advertisements in public in a bid to curb alcohol abuse and binge drinking. 


We're well aware that the Commission was put together with good intentions but banning alcohol advertising in public places just doesn't seem to add up to us. Furthermore this is coming from a company which does not and will never do any form of advertising whatsoever.
Fair enough glamourising alcohol and imbuing it with connotations of sex and success might give the easily led a sense of false hope, not to mention false advertising, but we don't believe a black out on adverts will make a great deal of difference and help Scotland solve it's alcohol problems.

Simply put - just because you can't see the contents of mummy and daddy's drinks cabinet doesn't mean you don't know it exists or will ever take an interest in it.

Take illicit substances as another example, they aren't advertised on billboards, they don't get their own commercials and they certainly aren't a freebie given away with your Sunday newspaper.

Despite this, the total economic and social costs of problem drug use in Scotland are estimated at around £2.6bn a year. The cost of alcohol is in the region of £3.5bn a year. That's not a huge difference given the former gets not as nearly as much coverage, advertising and supermarket shelf space as the latter.


Fair enough, this isn't an issue that's ever going to be clear cut but would banning alcohol advertisements and ushering booze out of the public eye altogether really make Scots think differently or curb binge drinking?

Surely the way to address the situation is not to reduce people's contact with alcohol but instead to challenge their perceptions of drink and its purpose to allow them to make more informed decisions when they do.

Lets broaden horizons rather than restrict them; an ethos that will always be inherent to the craft beer movement.

What are your thoughts? We want to start a debate on this issue and hear what the readers of the BrewDog blog have to say, so get stuck into that comments box. stat!

Oh and where is J.S Mill when you need him?

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Phil 02.07.2010 @ 1:52pm
Price controls do not work when people have surplus disposable income. I doubt that minimum pricing will help. Remember years ago the Norwegians got drunk at the weekend and their beer was a great deal more than ours? It is attitudes that need to change or a period of very severe austerity - and the latter will be no good for the UK.
Matt Davies 02.07.2010 @ 1:27pm
I hate it when jumped up little fascists want to tell people how to live, according to their own warped set of values.I see we have a few here.
Tom Mann 01.07.2010 @ 6:34pm
Minimum pricing is not the answer. People will not buy craft even if it's the same price. Do you not think that people actually lime carlsberg? I know I do. I bought 3 crates at ten quid a pop, mainly for the footie and bbqs. Just because it's cheap doesn't mean I'm going to neck it all. Because I drink responsibly. Punishing poor people is not the answer. Proper alcohol education and making responsible drinking a common part of adult life is the key.
Will 30.06.2010 @ 7:47pm
Sam Rodwell - they have no smoking bans in the states for quite a long time and they bars over there are unaffected. Smoking is rubbish anyway. Minimum pricing should only be aimed at the superstrength £5 for 4 can lagers and chemical cider. I don't think hitting standard lagers would do much, some of them aren't all that bad in quality terms, they're just bland.It is hard to find an answer, to be honest most of our problems are culture related, no where else in the world has the ridiculous speed drinking culture we have even in countries where laws are similar.
Chris 30.06.2010 @ 6:52pm
Its a pricing issue, simple economics really. Young people get drunk because its easy and cheap to do so, no other reason and is has knacker all to do with advertising. I really think minimum pricing is a necessity, you can't expect people not to drink when you can buy 3 litres of cheap shite cider for a quid.Minimum pricing would also benefit the little smaller independent breweries too. If all beer is £3 a bottle, why buy Bud when you can get something better....The only issue is, why should people who do not binge drink have to pay for the rest of those who do. I agree its not exactly a pigouvian tax but you have to start somewhere and to be honest, for those of us who will only drink craft beer and beer from the small independents it won't make a massive difference anyway.It is a social and cultural turnaround which is needed, we might have reached a tipping point, but we have not reached critical mass, it is reversable. For the powers that be it is easier to punish the little guy than take on the lobbying powers of the multinationals, but the Scottish Government need to take a stand against the companies that pump out 24 cans of 5% lager for £10. Do that, and you'll curb binge drinking...However its a long road, not a short fix and it will take several interventions to reduce the alcohol issue. It doesn't help that it is seen as socially acceptable to be twatted on a Tuesday afternoon in this country either....
Fritz 30.06.2010 @ 1:45pm
Education, education, education
Sam Rodwell 30.06.2010 @ 10:49am
Minimum pricing is not the answer
DonMagi 30.06.2010 @ 9:33am
Richard - I completly agree with you, however the question is how do we solve it. Increasing the price will at least mean people will perhaps think about doing other things on a friday night than just hit a 12 pack.
Richard Warner 30.06.2010 @ 9:21am
The real problem isn't cheap alcohol or advertising.James gets close when he talks of illicit drugs and how they aren't advertised.The problem is that alcohol is seen as illicit, so getting drunk when younger is seen as cool. Couple that with our British aggressiveness (Did you spill my pint?) and you don't have a great mix.Contrast with Germany - loads of alcohol adverts, it's dirt cheap (€0.60 in the supermarket) and they don't have the same problem. Alcohol is integrated into family life, it's a drink that people are used to and the aim of a night out is to have a good time (gemueglichkeit) rather than get bladdered.The company I work for is based in Germany and we're about to have our summer get-together. The Germans are looking forward to meeting everyone and mentioning football at every opportunity. The Brits are looking forward to getting bladdered.Does any more need to be said?
DonMagi 30.06.2010 @ 8:18am
The real problems is simply alcohol is too cheap. The fact you can get completly out your mind for £5 on nasty white cider or strong rubbish lager is the issue. They are looking into putting a minumum price per unit on drinks and that can only be a good thing for craft beer. As it means the price of nasty get your fix cheap mass produced nonsence will have to increase its price to an acceptable level which is about the same level as a good craft made beer. For example a can of tennents going up from 40p - £1.20 so the difference in price between rubbish and craft is far narrower and people will start to drink better. For those of you screaming out against this, note the price of good craft beer, quality wines and premium sprits wouldnt change.
Darryl Trinne 29.06.2010 @ 11:45pm
Rule of thumb, the bigger the ad, the poorer the beer. Any how, it's only binge drinking if you stop!
John Byrne 29.06.2010 @ 10:53pm
Well, there is so much to say about this. I guess the best place to start is that for the most part, craft beer drinkers don't binge drink. There are a few reasons for that: craft beers cost too much to chug 'em, they are too strong/filling to binge on, and they are somewhat coveted amongst enthusiasts as myself to waste by pounding them. Now, not advertising something doesn't have much of a change on the use. A large percent of the beers that I drink I have never even seen an ad for anywhere. I have to search these breweries out and find them on store shelves to get any info on them. In the end I think that there should be a fine line drawn between the kinds of beers that encourage binge drinking and advertise false situations of grandeur and loose women. Most of "their" beers are watery, need to be drank fast and cold, are cheap, readily available anywhere, attract young people because of all of this, and also attract the kind of women that you would expect from the product you are buying. Only problem is that you have to drink a lot of cheap mass-produced beer to make that kind of woman look good by the end of the night.When I enjoy a craft beer I don't always buy it and crack it open in the car. I may not even drink it for a month or more ( i have one that is 2 years old and I have no plans to drink it for another 3 years at least) I usually have maybe 3 or so beers when I do enjoy craft beer. People complain that it takes me so long to drink one of these "fine" beers because I actually savor it, I analyze it, I compare it, I may even blog about it. Craft beers are NOT responsible for binge drinking...that is silly. Wake up your average binge drinker, youth, or even mass-produced-domestic-beer-lover and offer them a craft brew. They probably won't even drink it! Craft beer drinkers are educated about beer. That goes from the serving size, temperature, alcohol content, kind of hops, style of beer, ingredients and taste. That means we know a little bit about how to manage ourselves when we drink. At least I know I do...
Mimi 29.06.2010 @ 10:38pm
Taking alcohol advertising and people's freedom to decide what and how much they drink isn't going to solve the problem of binge drinking. Scotland needs an alternative where they feel they are gaining something and moving forward; not missing out. Craft beer ticks those boxes since people can truly appreciate how it's made, pick out flavours and characteristics as well as knowing where it comes from rather than having massive advertising campaigns frog march them to the till everytime they venture into the supermarket!
Grant 29.06.2010 @ 10:36pm
I think you should have a beer called "responsibly". Then all other companies who have to put "drink responsibly" on their packaging can advertise for you ;)
Will 29.06.2010 @ 10:34pm
Well, thats the beauty of being a craft brewer... you leave all this pointless crap to the big boys to play with. If you're beer is that bad you have to adverstise it, people shouldnt know about it anyway lol