Last month, a Croakey post querying the merits of a new product, which has been dubbed “alcopops by the cask”, brought an indignant response from the company involved, Diageo Australia, which said: “…we never target people under the legal purchase age”.
Perhaps Diageo might like to reconsider this claim in the light of the Johnnie Walker All Star Twenty20 match, which is exposing many children to alcohol advertising, suggests Professor Mike Daube, Director of the McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth at Curtin University in Perth.
Mike Daube writes:
Alcohol companies like to claim that they do not promote alcohol to children and young people.
In Croakey of September 29, Bob Rayner, Corporate Relations Director of Diageo Australia, responded to criticisms of Smirnoff alcopops casks claiming, “as a producer, we live up to our responsibility and enforce one of the industry’s most stringent marketing codes which applies to all product development and marketing, and ensures we never target people under the legal purchase age”.
Full page press advertisements for a flagship Diageo brand, the “Johnnie Walker All Star TWENTY20” event, on October 3, seem to belie this claim.
The advertisements feature star cricketers, sporting heroes for children, offering the opportunity to “become a national selector”.
Readers can pick the “Johnnie Walker ACA All Star Aussie Fans” team, which takes on the “Johnnie Walker ACA All Stars” team in a match to be broadcast on Channel 9 in November. The “Johnnie Walker” name features twelve times in the advertisement (with a further credit for Victoria Bitter).
Participants vote through the Johnnie Walker www.t20allstar.com.au website, which is understandably heavy on product promotion, and can be accessed by children. The only constraint appears to be that children cannot participate in a competition to “carry the drinks”.
Children will inevitably be in the audience at the ground and through Channel 9 for the “Johnnie Walker All Star Twenty20” match. This is on a Sunday, starting at the child-friendly time of 4:40pm.
On the basis of previous experience, one can assume that the players and ground will be festooned with promotions for Johnnie Walker, and that the event and brand will be heavily advertised and promoted in all media before and during the game.
Lest there be any doubt that children are envisaged as part of the audience, the advertisement notes that tickets are available “from $20 adult, $10 child, $45 family”.
Perhaps Diageo could explain how children are not targeted by and exposed to promotion for Johnnie Walker whisky through this clever marketing exercise, and how “one of the industry’s most stringent marketing codes” permits this promotion?