Drinks industry is willing to work with Government to combat misuse of alcohol
There is no evidence a ban on sponsorship of sporting events will impact on problem drinking
Does anyone really believe that preventing Jameson Irish Whiskey from sponsoring the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival would lead to less misuse of alcohol? Connecting a premium brand to a premium Irish cultural event is a great way of saying that the product is an authentic and sophisticated one. Irish Distillers sponsors this festival in order to connect the Jameson brand internationally with a premium, cultural, Irish event and through this gain market share globally from the dominant Scotch and American whiskeys. This home-grown activity helps build the Jameson brand worldwide which in turn, leads to more jobs in Ireland.
Second, let’s take the proposed ban on outdoor advertising. It has already been pointed out that countries such as France have implemented tough laws on alcohol advertising to little effect. Even supporters of restrictions admit that such measures are “symbolic” rather than scientific.
But consider the negative economic effects of this restriction. Job losses in advertising agencies and related companies will be the most direct impact. And will my colleagues at Diageo be allowed to advertise Dublin’s biggest tourist attraction, the Guinness Storehouse? Will Irish Distillers be allowed to advertise our visitor centres in Dublin and Cork? Consider the many business contacts that companies such as Irish Distillers bring from all over the world to Ireland to showcase the heritage of Irish whiskey. This year alone we will purchase more than 7, 000 hotel nights for these guests. What sense will this make if they arrive in a country that seems to be deeply ashamed of its own whiskey heritage?
Irish drinks brands are among the most prominent exports from this island – valued at more than €1 billion and renowned for their quality, craft and ingredients. Our brands’ visitor centres attract nearly 1.5 million people every year. And that is why, when prominent people visit our country, they choose to visit these places, just as they might chose to visit a champagne vineyard in France or a malt distillery in Scotland. We are proud of our quality products; it is the misuse of these products that we need to address.
I hope people reading this will want to work together with us to make sure that Ireland becomes a society that is proud of its sociable cultural heritage, and where binge drinking or antisocial behaviour is not tolerated. This, coincidentally, is also the best future I could wish for Irish whiskey and the alcohol sector in general.
Anna Malmhake is chair of the Alcohol Beverage Federation and chief executive of Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard