Last week I posted about the new campaign from Cricket Australia, supported by Fosters, Diageo and Channel 9, called ‘Know when to declare”. While supporting the campaign, I did highlight some of the challenges that a company that profits from selling alcohol faces in being taken seriously selling the healthy drinking message.
Last Sunday night on the Beer Show we had Troy Hey, Fosters General Manager-Media and Reputation, on to talk about the campaign. Troy spoke about the campaign and its aims and made good points about the role a business like Foster’s has to play in changing societal perceptions about alcohol. It’s obviously an issue that, at least on some level, the business is serious about.
Then today, I’m strolling through the local bottlo and see the latest promotion for Carlton Mid, Ken’s Bucks. With the tagline, “We made up a man so you can go to his Bucks”.
Google “Ken’s Bucks” and the first return is:’
Now, what is the first thing that you think of when you think of a buck’s party? (Ok, maybe the second..after boobs and before the shaved eyebrows and one-way train tickets). But it’s certainly not moderation or responsible drinking.
To quote comedian Robin Williams out of context, sticking the ‘enjoy responsibly’ logo on a promotion that ties beer with a buck’s night is like trying to stop a Ferrari with a tissue.
A couple of weeks ago, Foster’s national sponsorship manager, Chris Maxwell, admitted the company was wrong to feature David Boon as part of their talking doll campaign because it could be seen promoting binge drinking.
The issue with Boonie is a hard one. He is a great Australian, and he has personally never sought to promote or glamorise his inflight ‘achievement’. As a recent article about it recounted:
When asked a few years ago to discuss it, his blunt reply was: “Never have, never will.”
When he penned his life story soon after his retirement he didn’t even mention it.
But, fairly or not, he will forever be associated with the 52 cans on a flight to London and associating him with a beer campaign is a nudge and a wink in that direction.
In admitting the error, Chris Maxwell said:
“Looking back, we have decided that was the wrong thing to do. We didn’t have the foresight to see that this issue was going to be so significant. And in glorifying that behaviour we have added to the issue of the normalisation of binge-drinking in Australia.
”The difference is now we realise we have a responsibility to the community to promote our products in a responsible way. Therefore, we think a lot more deeply about how we use ambassadors, how we use our messages, and the potential impact down the track.”
When I put this to Troy, he replied:
The promotion is for midstrength beer, aimed at spending time with your mates with the prize a 5 star accommodation, meal, nightclub entry and grand canyon helicopter and white water rafting adventure.
There’s nothing in the promotion that encourages abuse of alcohol and instead, it plays to the modern incarnation of the bucks party – as the ultimate leave pass for the bloke who finds it tough to get time away to do ‘stuff’ i.e. golf, go-cart racing, fishing, fly to LA and white water raft etc.)
All reasonable, except the competition isn’t called “The Ultimate Leave Pass” competition.
The “Know when to declare” message is a positive one, but it seems to be inconsistent with and undermined by the very same brewery tying a campaign to buck’s parties.
What’s the first thing you think about when you think buck’s nights?