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Booze Ads Mislead With "Drink Responsibly" Line

Industry watchdog calls out alcohol companies for using the message deceptively.

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Thanks for the advice, Heineken. Photo via

By May Wilkerson

05/02/12

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Our friends over at Heineken, Patron and Smirnoff are worried about our drinking, which is why they often remind us to "drink responsibly" in ads for their products, i.e. "The perfect way to enjoy Patron is...responsibly". But this is a load of Bogus Strategizing, according to a new report by the US-based alcohol industry watchdog "Alcohol Justice." The report calls out Big Alcohol for touting the "Drink Responsibly" message under the pretense of protecting people from the dangers of drinking—when in fact, the message is being used, deceptively, to sell booze. "Alcohol producers and marketers are more interested in their public relations than public health," says report co-author Sarah Mart. "So it's not surprising that they hide behind a vague, ineffective slogan that does nothing to reduce the annual catastrophe of harm caused by their products." After reviewing the "drink responsibly" message in 41 different magazines geared towards young readers, Mart notes that the messages were often concealed, blended in to the background, or "tiny in relation to the size of the entire ads." But the biggest problem, she claims, is that the message is used to increase sales, not to actually encourage moderate drinking. "Big Alcohol should stop disguising its alcohol promotion as a public service, and government should stop accepting the 'drink responsibly' charade at face value," states Bruce Lee Livingston, Executive Director/CEO of Alcohol Justice. "We are asking today for State Attorney Generals to investigate the alcohol industry's 'drink responsibly' messages as misleading and deceptive advertising."

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