C&C raises a glass to advertising restrictions

Cidermaker contradicts ABFI assertion that bill will ‘not meaningfully address misuse’

Bulmers cidermaker C&C wasted no time in trolling its competitors in the Irish drinks industry this week, with an interesting statement welcoming the Government’s tough new proposed laws around alcohol advertising.

At 3.25pm on Wednesday, the Alcohol Beverage Federation of Ireland, the Ibec division for the booze industry, put out a stern release condemning several aspects of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill published by Minister for Health Leo Varadkar.

The federation’s missive was mostly Chicken-licken stuff, with dark warnings about the nanny state, the potential impact of ad controls on innovation in the drinks industry, and how minimum prices could drive Irish consumers north of the Border to buy their booze.

About seven minutes after the federation’s email, wily old C&C, which is the only Irish drinks company of note that is not listed as a member, put out its own release warmly welcoming the new advertising restrictions.

Impact of alcohol

C&C said it was concerned about the impact of alcohol on a “minority of people and their communities” and insisted “there is no doubt that proposals in the bill will reduce the harm caused by alcohol”.

This directly contradicted the federation’s bald assertion that the Bill would “not meaningfully address misuse”.

C&C has adopted a similar strategy in Scotland, where it has strongly backed the local government’s attempts to impose minimum alcohol pricing while its competitors roar in opposition.

It is a clever move all round for the cidermaker. It gets to position itself as a socially responsible alcohol company while its rivals act like good old-fashioned vested interests.

C&C also gets to distance itself from any notion of low price-driven booze consumption, which is always a sensible move for a premium cidermaker. It has worked hard to shed the old image of kids glugging cheap flagons of the stuff in fields.

And it is all risk-free for the company. The Bulmers brand is priced well above the minimum level proposed, so it will be unaffected by the pricing move anyway.

Despite the company’s recent travails, there is still nothing wrong with C&C’s advertising instincts.