By Andrew Starke

The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia (WFA), a member of DrinkWise, has rubbished claims that the organisation is ‘just a PR tactic’.

WFA CEO Stephen Strachan said the Deakin University claims were laughable and did a great disservice to the academic community.

The war of words started after DrinkWise commented on a survey, released by Quantum Market Research, which concluded that its ‘Kids and Alcohol Don't Mix’ campaign is resonating with parents.

However a new study from Deakin University’s School of Psychology has found that: “DrinkWise has been used by the alcohol industry to create an impression of social responsibility while promoting interventions that maintain profits and campaigning against effective interventions such as higher taxes on alcohol”.

The study – Alcohol industry use of social aspect public relations organisations against preventative health measures – can be read by clicking here.

Strachan questioned the study, claiming the sole research involved appeared to be reading submissions about preventative health issues in which, not surprisingly, those who fund DrinkWise (alcohol producers) talk about that fact and what the organisation is trying to do.

”This then leads the researchers to claim the whole process is tainted and that DrinkWise only promotes measures for which there is little evidence of impact and which are unlikely to hurt profits,” he said.

”As the ‘research’ does not actually address impacts, this ‘finding’ is clearly just opinion.”

Strachan said it was ironic that the claims had come the day after DrinkWise released survey results in relation to its recent Kids and Alcohol Don’t Mix campaign, which show 76 percent of parents surveyed said the campaign made them think about how they drank and how their attitude to alcohol will influence the way their children may drink in the future.

”The second irony is that the researchers claim DrinkWise is just a PR tactic when that is exactly what they are guilty of – trying to grab a headline based on nothing and continuing the relentless campaign to portray all alcohol as bad all the time,” he said.

”The alcohol industry openly and voluntarily funds DrinkWise to run campaigns and educational programs that seek to change Australia’s drinking culture.

”If Deakin University wants to make a serious contribution to the debate around alcohol consumption in this country it might want to have an equally serious look at the research it spends money on and the way researchers are allowed to interpret and promote it.”


The Shout Team

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1 Comment

  1. This flows on from the illogical comments from the ani-cancer council that low alcohol wine is “bad because people are encouraged to drink more”. It remains to be seen how the drinks industry can possibly satisfy these people. When genuine efforts to address the social responsibility issues that accompany alcohol sales in this day and age are met with cynicism, scorn and derision – you wonder “why bother”? Would the anti-cancer council be happier, for example, if winemakers producer wines with a very HIGH alcohol content; using the logic leap that this would encourage people to drink LESS? Would it better if all producers of alcoholic beverages were NOT members of Drinkwise, and did not spend any money and time on these campaigns and labelling measures? Instead of wildly second – guessing motives and assuming the worst, it would be more constructive if credit was given for the positive results achieved so far, as suggested by the survey.

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