Anti-alcohol lobby group the Alcohol and Drug Foundation has launched a campaign which claims that children are witnessing and emulating changing parental drinking habits during lockdown.
The advert under the tag line “You may have been drinking more during isolation but you haven’t been drinking alone” features a number of children on a staged Zoom call repeating “commonly-used” adult phrases in regards to drinking.
This most recent campaign has already been lambasted by the alcohol sector, with Andrew Wilsmore, chief executive officer of Alcohol Beverages Australia criticising the representation of drinking during COVID-19 in the advert.
The advert plays into widely-circulated claims that people are drinking more alcohol during lockdown. However following an initial surge when it was unclear if bottle shops would be considered an essential service, groups such as Dan Murphy’s owner Endeavour Drinks Group and Coles Liquor reported that sales have normalised.
“The fact Australians have tried to replace just a few of these lost moments with a drink with friends over zoom isn’t something that needs demonising, especially when per capita consumption is at 50 year lows, underage drinking is at its lowest point on record, and our youngest generation is drinking more responsibly than any before them,” Wilsmore said.
Ironically the Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s campaign’s concept is almost idential to a campaign run by DrinkWise more than a decade ago, despite portaying DrinkWise as a industry front running the same campaign as the same type of campaign as the tobacco industry.
Around the time the original 18-month, $8 million DrinkWise campaign came out, a stoush between different factions in the anti-alcohol lobbying sector led to anti-alcohol academic Professor Mike Daube from WA’s Curtin University calling the campaign “tepid”.
Not only that, but DrinkWise is also running a 2020 campaign under the tagline “Children can inherit more than your looks” with similar aims to its predecessor.
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation
The Alcohol and Drug Foundation was founded in 1959 by a “group of concerned citizens”. Like the Foundation for Alcohol Research and Education, it aims to “prevent and minimise the harm caused by alcohol and other drugs in Australia”.
When asked about the advertisement by Brews News, Alcohol and Drug Foundation CEO, Dr Erin Lalor said that it was informed by a recent survey of 1,000 Australian parents.
Dr Lalor said that the survey found that 29 per cent of parents of school-aged students have increased their alcohol intake during the COVID-19 lockdown, with 19 per cent of parents who have upped their alcohol consumption during isolation citing extra video socialising as a factor.
38 per cent cited heightened feelings of anxiety and stress as the main reason for increased alcohol consumption during lockdown.
“The Alcohol and Drug Foundation’s ‘You haven’t been drinking alone’ campaign is aimed at encouraging parents of school-aged children to be mindful of how their drinking may have changed since the outbreak of COVID-19, the impact it may be having on their health and how they may be inadvertently influencing their children’s attitudes and behaviours towards alcohol.
“Some parents may not realise that their own behaviours and attitudes towards alcohol, plays one of the strongest roles in influencing their children’s future behaviour and attitudes towards alcohol,” said Dr Lalor.
The idea that parental habits can strongly influence childrens’ behaviours is a well-trodden campaign concept.
DrinkWise’s latest campaign “Children can inherit more than your looks” has been posted on billboards after support from Diageo and Outdoor Media Association. It features similar messaging to that of the ADF campaign, with less of a focus on lockdown drinking as we see restrictions easing.
It’s not the first time DrinkWise has used the campaign concept. In 2008, DrinkWise launched its “Kids Absorb your Drinking” campaign, which placed a major focus on parents as role models for children.
At the time DrinkWise said it had achieved positive results with almost three in ten parents reporting that they had subsequently reduced the amount of alcohol consumed in front of their children.
“Over the last 15 years, DrinkWise has placed a major focus on parents’ roles as influencers and role models when it comes to their children’s future consumption of alcohol,” DrinKWise CEO Simon Strahan told Brews News.
“Many would remember the DrinkWise ‘Kids Absorb Your Drinking’ advertisement, where the dad is asking his son to get a beer out of the fridge, a message that resonated with parents and significantly changed the way many adults consumed alcohol in front of their children.”
DrinkWise has also emphasised messaging for parents as part of its COVID-19 activity, through isolation-specific parental influence messaging with DrinkWise ambassador, Dr Andrew Rochford.