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CUB take aim at alcohol awareness group FARE after Drinkwise ad comes in for criticism

Brewer Carlton & United Breweries (CUB) has taken aim at alcohol awareness group Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) which has today launched a social media campaign against the latest DrinkWise advert.

This morning FARE’s CEO Michael Thorn penned an opinion piece which was highly critical of the DrinkWise campaign, arguing it was a cleverly disguised beer ad, not a public health message. A video released by FARE this afternoon takes aim at the creation of the DrinkWise campaign by agency Clemenger BBDO Melbourne.

FARE’s response to the Drinkwise ad

In a response to the criticism CUB has sought to highlight what it claims is the $115m the group has received in government funding over the last decade, arguing the group is spending too much on administration and not on what it was set up to do, public education.

“This money should be immediately invested into developing a meaningful public education campaign rather than funding a special interest lobby group, and criticising other campaigns,’ said Jeremy Griffith, director of corporate affairs for CUB.

Drinkwise’s new commercial

“It is ironic the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education would criticise a well-researched and effective industry responsible consumption campaign, when it currently has no relevant campaign themselves despite receiving $115m in government funding”.

“It currently has $36m in reserves which is being used to fund a very large administration. Administration now consumes 45 percent of its total expenses.”

CUB also said it believed that FARE had failed to invest in any “meaningful” advertising campaign arguing that it has been the alcohol industry DrinkWise campaigns which have had the best success.

“The Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education (FARE) was established over 10 years ago with a $115million grant to educate the public on responsible consumption,” said Griffith. “This money was raised from Australian beer drinkers.”

“Unfortunately, over this period, the Foundation has failed to invest in any meaningful campaign. The only campaigns in the last decade that have had any impact have been the industry funded DrinkWise campaigns – the highly successful ‘Kid’s absorb your drinking’, ‘How to drink properly’ and now the new ‘You won’t miss a moment if you DrinkWise’.”

“Instead, FARE has moved away from education to instead becoming a highly vocal political lobby group to promote its special interests.”

DrinkWise has also issued a statement defending its advertising from the criticisms levelled by FARE, with chief executive John Scott saying: “You won’t miss a moment if you DrinkWise’ invites any organisation or entity with a stake in changing poor drinking cultures to engage in a shared vision: a clear message of moderation.

“The creative concept for this new initiative was tested with the public, who found it to be a powerful visual metaphor that works well to covey that more drinking equates to less enjoyment.

“While everyone is entitled to their opinion, the early positive response to the initiative is strong. ‘You won’t miss a moment if you DrinkWise’ reflects a wish established by consumer research into event-centric drinking, that showed missing out on forming memories of an event was a powerful tension.”

Updated 4.44pm: FARE’s CEO Michael Thorn said in a statement to Mumbrella:

“It is very telling, but not at all surprising, that the first to leap to the defence of the DrinkWise beer advertisement is Carlton United Breweries, one of the nation’s largest beer barons.

“I have no doubt that Carlton United Breweries would like nothing else than for FARE to exhaust its reserves funding big budget beer ads. Rest assured FARE has no intention of being intimidated by the likes of CUB, and will continue to ensure its funding goes instead towards meaningful research and advocacy efforts focussed, not on beer ads masquerading as education campaigns, but on proven evidence-based solutions that will actually reduce the heavy alcohol toll that sees 15 Australians killed and a further 430 Australians hospitalised every single day.”

Nic Christensen 

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