Craft brewer cites small business responsibility fears

By Neil Merrett

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Portman group

Some smaller brewers appear unconcerned by a new UK drive to encourage consumer to complain about alcohol advertising that they deem to encourage irresponsible drinking, citing wider concerns over corporate responsibility.

Scotland-based beer maker Brewdog says that it is not worried over any potential fallout on its brands from appeals for complaints on any alcohol advertising deemed to fail corporate responsibility guidelines, despite its concerns over current industry-led social responsibility drives.

The claims come with the launch of a new scheme by the Portman Group, an industry led UK-based social responsibility body, which hopes to encourage consumers to name and shame potentially irresponsible packaging and promotions.

The scheme, which has been kicked off in the UK press this week in the run up to Christmas, will look to gather the views of consumers about the adverts of small, medium and larger-sized alcohol manufacturers that may contravene its own guidelines on social responsibility.

As part of the focus, the Portman Group says it will also use direct mail to ascertain the views of professionals like police and trading standards officers, which it claims are more likely to come across offending adverts.

Craft brewer’s concerns

A spokesperson for the brewer said that while the company did not fear that encouraging complaints would negatively affect its operations, Brewdog has wider worries about the impacts of the Portman Group’s code on smaller businesses.

The brewer alleged that with the Portman Group being funded by larger multinational manufacturers it was difficult for them to target those very same companies.

“It is very much a case of not biting the hand that feeds them,”​ claimed the spokesperson. “They seem to be picking on smaller craft and artisanal breweries to be seen to be doing something, when the real problems of alcohol abuse stems from the actions of the bigger companies, which are their founders.”

The Portman Group

Despite the criticisms, back in May, The Portman Group says its code of practice had been named in the '50 Best' campaigns for alcohol harm reduction by the International Harm Reduction Association (IHRA).

The group's code calls on drink makers not to market their products at consumers under 18 years of age, while also encouraging them not to promote rapid or heavy consumption of the product through use of sexual imagery or bravado.

Under the guidelines, packaging must also not use its alcoholic content as a dominant part of it packaging, or suggest that the product may improve a consumers mental or physical capabilities.

Related topics: Markets, Alcohol Regulation

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