Last week we saw one of Big Alcohol’s key players fail to abide by its own guidelines which say alcohol must not target young people.
Duff Beer is being sold through BWS and Dan Murphy’s stores, and is immediately recognisable by identical branding from the oft-drunk (and frequently misused) beverage in the long-running cartoon series The Simpsons. The Simpsons TV series is very popular with children and young people under drinking age in Australia – approximately 55% of the audience are underage.
We know that marketing alcohol to children is dangerous and harmful. As the Australian National Preventative Health Agency put it on page 38 of their draft report on alcohol advertising published in February:
“early and cumulative exposure to alcohol advertising contributes to both an earlier initiation of alcohol use (i.e. younger age of first drink) and more frequent and heavy drinking by young Australians, and patterns of harmful drinking later in life”
Woolworths have effectively created a reverse product placement. They would never be allowed to insert a pre-existing alcohol product into a popular cartoon series, so in a creative move they’ve taken the fictional Duff beer and made it into a real life consumable alcohol product.
Every episode of The Simpsons, watched by thousands of children every night, will now be recruiting drinkers to a real life alcoholic product – available in a Woolworth’s-owned bottleshop near you.
Even Big Alcohol’s own industry-run code acknowledges alcohol shouldn’t “have a strong or evident appeal to children or adolescents.” Woolworth have reported that they will refrain from advertising the product. GrogWatch would suggest that advertising is unnecessary when your product is embedded into what must be the world’s most popular cartoon series.
Here at GrogWatch we’re disappointed that a company such as Woolworths, which promotes their brand as one families can trust, would choose to create and sell an alcoholic beverage that has such clear appeal to children.
If we are serious about reducing the harm from alcohol in this country, we need to set limits and draw the line to protect the community from preventable harm. This is not nannyism – it’s not anti-alcohol –there are still dozens of beers available – it’s about the alcohol industry targeting children.
Let us know here at Grogwatch what you think – have Woolworths crossed the line?