Unlike me, agency kids don’t enjoy getting drunk any more says media trading boss

How the SMh portrayed Swofte drinkign with younger colleage

How the Sun-Herald portrayed Swifte drinking with younger colleague and agency social committee member Matt Soulsby

The communications industry’s hard-drinking culture is dying out among younger staff, a senior executive from one of Australia’s biggest media agencies has claimed.

Describing himself as a “drinker of some renown”, Dentsu Mitchell’s 45-year-old national investment and trading director Nick Swifte told The Sunday Age and Sun-Herald that staff under 30 no longer stay for end-of-work drinks in the way they used to. He told the Fairfax newspapers:

“I like getting drunk. I’m a big fan of it. Working as a media buyer there is booze everywhere… it’s all free.”

Dentsu Mitchell’s clients include wine brand Brown Brothers as well as the Australian Government, Victorian Government. Australia Post, Ansell and Renault.

sunday age binge brigadeSwifte, who has been with Mitchells for nearly two decades, told the Sunday Age and sister Sydney title the Sun-Herald: “When we were starting out in our 20s, if the office turned on the booze you would literally sit around and drink until there was nothing left.”

In the article – highlighting a growth in Australian binge drinkers over the age of 40 and corresponding rise in the number of young people choosing to abstain – Swifte said that when drinks are given to staff now, those under 30 have all left by 5.30. He said: “If the beer and chips come out at 4.30, by 5.30 all the kids under 30 are gone.

“Now the younger staff might have one beer or not drink at all.”

Further comments from Swifte which appear online, but not in the print version of the Sun-Herald article, saw him reveal that he gave up drinking “for nearly a month” after signing up for the Hello Sunday Morning moderate drinking initiative in January.

Swifte said: “When I went to a few lunches and didn’t drink people were like, ‘Jesus, have you got cancer or something? Are you raising money?’ It’s just so much accepted that this is what we do.

“But I think if we’ve got no health complaints, we’re relatively fit and as long as you have one or two days a week alcohol free you’re OK.”

The Harold Mitchell Foundation is supporting the national expansion of the Hello Sunday Morning project. Harold Mitchell sold his agency Mitchell & Partners to Aegis, which was later acquired by Dentsu and rebadged as Dentsu Mitchell. Harold Mitchell famously gave up drinking in his 20s.

Noon August 24 update: Dentsu has issued the following statement on behalf of Chris Raine, CEO of Hello Sunday Morning:

“Nick Swifte, in addition to his team at Dentsu Mitchell, has been one of Hello Sunday Morning’s most active partners across corporate Australia in improving and reconstructing Australia’s drinking culture.

“Nick agreed to be involved in the [Fairfax] article as a supporter of Hello Sunday Morning and understood the purpose was to highlight the research report that pointed to a decline of binge drinking in the Under 30s.  Unfortunately, the article focused on a few anecdotal observations he made around the topic of drinking during his years in the industry.

“There are few people who have contributed more to Hello Sunday Morning than Nick Swifte.  Over the past two years, he has led the charge, securing an enormous amount of ad space for HSM to put towards our national campaigns. This has contributed to more than 55,000 individuals committing to our program, each of whom is bringing positive social change in transforming our drinking culture.

“This year alone, his support, and the support of Dentsu Mitchell, has enabled tens of thousands of people’s lives to change.”


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