Online Program

Alcohol industry "social responsibility" campaigns: Intentions, outcomes, & policy recommendations

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 11:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.

Sarah Mart, MS, MPH, Research & Policy, Alcohol Justice, San Rafael, CA
Alcohol companies' use of communications campaigns, and even specific products, to promote their brands and businesses as "socially responsible" have proliferated in the last few decades. Despite the alcohol industry's mentions of global citizenship and shared values, critics have described these campaigns as deceptive public relations spin--ineffective at reducing alcohol-related harm, yet incredibly effective at building brand loyalty and increasing positive perception of the corporations. Despite the lack of findings to demonstrate the effectiveness of "corporate social responsibility" in achieving public health outcomes, the industry has made these messages a tentpole of corporate public relations plans. This is not surprising, since as businesses, beverage alcohol companies are primarily accountable to their shareholders, who seek a financial return on their investment. Alcohol Justice examined recent and current examples of "social responsibility" campaigns including advertising and products associated with causes such as HIV/AIDS, LGBT equality, breast cancer, and natural disasters such as earthquakes and hurricanes. We reviewed alcohol industry descriptions of "corporate social responsibility" and analyzed campaign examples in light of those descriptions. Finally, we compared industry "corporate social responsibility" campaign components to the most effective, evidence-based alcohol policies available. We will discuss policy implications of these findings and recommendations for alcohol companies, mass media, regulators, and public health policy policy stakeholders.

Learning Areas:

Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe current "social responsibility" campaigns developed and promoted in various countries by alcohol companies to increase those corporations' credibility Compare alcohol industry "social responsibility" campaigns to evidence-based best practices for alcohol policy Identify recommendations for policy change at corporate, media, regulatory, and governmental levels

Keyword(s): Alcohol, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I research the alcohol industry and its harmful products, promotion, practices and policies that negatively affect people around the world. The alcohol industry's promotion of "social responsibility" campaigns is one important example of those harmful practices.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 4080.0: Alcohol Policy: What Works?