Friday 16 March 2012

Alcohol Concern Wales' latest trick

Fake charity Alcohol Concern Wales have recently been spending your money on a study of 10 and 11 year olds and, therefore, have apparently created somthing newsworthy.

Child alcohol awareness 'higher than for some foods'

Children as young as 10 are more familiar with some alcohol brands and adverts than those for popular foods and snacks, research shows.

*Massive yawn*

Eight in 10 also recognised the Smirnoff vodka label as an alcohol product.

Good for them. It is an alcohol product. Is total ignorance now an official temperance goal? Would they be happier if kids thought it was lemonade?

Meanwhile, three-quarters of children associated the image of fictional characters Brad and Dan from a Fosters advert with alcohol, compared to 42% who recognised Cadbury's drumming gorilla was for a food product.

How interesting that they chose this Cadbury's advert as a comparison.

I remember this advert for two reasons. The first is that it got press coverage at the time—it was shown in 2007, but we'll come back to that—because it was considered brave to barely mention the product being advertised in a 90 second commercial. It swept the boards at various advertising awards ceremonies because its studied post-modernism appeals to the kind of cocaine-snorting posers who work in that industry. However...

The second reason I remember it is that, for the reasons given above, it was not very successful at actually shifting product. There was a massive chasm between the art-school pretensions of the back-slapping pseuds of the advertising industry and the commercial objectives of their clients.

In the last year, one of TV’s most talked-about advertisements has been the drumming gorilla. It won awards, it was a typical ‘water-cooler’ discussion point, and many people found it fun and off-beat (excuse the drumming pun!), even though the accompanying music was by Phil Collins.

The advertisers must have been happy with their awards and Cadbury’s must have been thrilled with the buzz. Or were they? Marketing Research company TNS have just issued a report – gratefully referenced by Private Eye in their ‘Ad Nauseam’ section – that shows that, during the period of the advertisement’s run up to July this year, Cadbury’s Dairy Milk actually lost ground to Galaxy (produced by rival Mars).

People remembered the advert because it was—albeit self-consciously—quirky, but they didn't remember what it was advertising because there is no connection between an ape playing along to Phil Collins and Dairy Milk chocolate. In the Foster's adverts, however, the two protagonists have constantly got a beer to hand, thereby reminding the public of what it is they're supposed to buy.

This is all rather significant if you're going to show kids stills from these two adverts and ask them what type of product is being sold. From the survey results...

An image of the characters Brad and Dan from a Fosters television advertisement was correctly associated with alcohol by three quarters (75%) of the children consulted. This was lower than the number correctly identifying Évian’s roller-skating babies advertisement as a being for a soft drink (83%), but much higher than the number who recognised screenshots from the Walkers Extra Crunchy advertisement (58%)...

Never heard of it.

...and the Cadbury drumming gorilla advertisement (42%) as being for foods.

What conclusion can any reasonable person draw from this other than that Evian and Foster's have made effective advertisements and Walkers and Cadbury's have not? Not only do Foster's make it clear that they are advertising a beer, they have made a series of different adverts using the same characters for a campaign that is still ongoing. Cadbury's, on the other hand, made one notoriously uninformative advert back in 2007 when the kids involved in this survey were 5 or 6 years old.

Does this comparison not have a touch of the apples and oranges about it? As I've said, I remember the Cadbury's advert and I knew it was for chocolate, but maybe—just maybe—I wouldn't have remembered the fucking thing if I had been five years old when it was last broadcast.

Mark Leyshon, from Alcohol Concern, said: "Research shows that children who are exposed to alcohol advertising and promotion are more likely to start to use alcohol, have positive expectations about alcohol, and to drink more if they are already using alcohol.

"It's clear that more effective controls are needed."

Shut up and give us our money back.


Ivan D said...

I am beginning to wonder if there is some part of the BBC charter that says the corporation must broadcast press releases from specified public health pressure groups however absurd. You would have thought that even BBC health journalists would have sussed out that Alcohol Concern consistently churn out utter crap by now so I suppose that they just don’t care.

I thought that we were no longer funding AC these days? The government pulled out but based on the appearance of their logo on a couple of reports I had assumed Comic Relief had stepped in to “keep up the good work”.

Christopher Snowdon said...

Alcohol Con has lost it core grant but Alcohol Con Wales is still very much on the teat of the taxpayer. Expect the majority of temperance muck to come from the valleys from here on in.

ftumch said...

Umm.. I heard a news item on t'radio earlier about a raid on illegal tobacco growing... well, something like that, can't find it on the bbc website, but did come across this:

Smoking: Tenovus calls for outright ban in Wales

"The cancer charity Tenovus has called for an outright ban on smoking in Wales, saying the cost of treating tobacco-related diseases is denying the NHS vital millions.

The call comes as two more health authorities introduce a ban on smoking, which is now prohibited in the grounds of most hospitals across Wales."

Carl V Phillips said...

OMFG. If I did not have the evidence that said we should completely trust you, I would swear you were making this stuff up.

My recent parody of "tobacco candy" research has nothing on this. In the parody, I created a methodology where there was twice as many of the bad thing and then made a big deal about how it was selected twice as often. I am inclined to say that using that gorilla ad is even more blatantly "cheating" than my joke.

I was pretty proud of my satire, but this takes some of the wind out of it.

Zaphod Camden said...

Ho hum.

And when I was eight years old, I knew that Harp stayed sharp to the bottom of the glass.

Didn't make me want to drink the stuff, though, as I also knew that was a claim I wouldn't be able to test for myself for another decade.

Tony Palazzolo said...

I think they just proved that kids watch too much TV. Probably need fund a study, and ban excessive tv watching.

Jackson said...

Do people even know what alcohol is? Or do they just think that the sound of the word is meant to invoke an emotion? (Alcohol is when daddy hits mummy and I cry)

Do they think that a glass of wine is a glass of alcohol?

Do they know that a 375 ml can of beer might contain say 16 ml of ethanol weighing about 13 g?

Do people know anything, or do they just believe?

Anonymous said...

This is uncannily parallel to the (later proved fraudulent) US study by a guy named Joseph DiFranza that got Joe Camel banned. I note that this study says "children as young as" 10 which is weasel wording. DiFranza pulled exactly the same trick since the majority of the "children" recognizing Joe were 19 and 20.

In his case, they actually caught him red-handed with damning memos to his backers in which, to get their money, he promised them he'd find what they wanted in advance (before he'd done the study) and also confessed in writing that, oops, he didn't find it but he knew how to fix it.

Not that it mattered. Joe Camel was banned.

Here's some links on the story: 16a02601.htm

Walt 4255.html

Christopher Snowdon said...

Hi Walt,

Can you post those links again? They don't work.

Furor Teutonicus said...

XX Good for them. It is an alcohol product. Is total ignorance now an official temperance goal? Would they be happier if kids thought it was lemonade? XX

Perhaps, perhaps not. But I suspect we are hearing the first shots being fired in a similar campaign that has lead to "plain packaging" of ciggarettes.

Michael J. McFadden said...

Wonderfully analyzed Chris! Beautiful!

Ivan, you wrote, "I am beginning to wonder if there is some part of the BBC charter that says the corporation must broadcast press releases from specified public health pressure groups however absurd"

Dunno if they're still doing it, but back when I wrote Brains I remember researching the little antismoking subplots and comments in situation comedies and such things here in the US and found that the networks were able to use them to get out of having to play millions of dollars worth of Public Service advertising! Here's a description I made of one particular subplot example:


One particular episode of 7th Heaven featured an evil twin smoking after his smoking father passed away from lung cancer, while one of the regular teen characters started smoking, influencing two toddlers to emulate him by pretending to smoke with crayons as another teen regular kept loudly proclaiming all smokers’ stupidity and another younger teen quit a newly acquired habit to prove that he wasn’t stupid. To top it all off, yet another smoking character was thrown into the mix to rudely blow smoke in a nonsmoker’s face at an outdoor café while the home she was house-sitting simultaneously burned down from one of her cigarettes… after which she simply lit up another smoke and stalked off with a comment about the place being insured and nonsmokers being uptight! (No, I am not making this up.)


So maybe by reporting smoking news with the "correct" perspective the BBC is able to get out of broadcasting some public service commercials? Might be worth looking into: that sort of deliberate alteration of the news at the BBC might be enough to get some heads rolling if it's happening.


Anonymous said...


The second link seems to be dead but later tonite I'll google to find it. Meanwhile, here's the first:

Scroll tll you find this excerpt

"When Dr. Joseph DiFranza's pre-testing for his 12/91 JAMA article showed that the ads appealed more to people in their 20s than early teens, he wrote his colleagues, "It would appear that we have just disproved our theory that the ads appeal more to kids than to adults." "

"To get his final results, DiFranza changed questions that didn't produce the desired answers and included in the results the answers of "kids" who told him they did not smoke. He also counted respondents up to 21 years of age as "kids."

DiFranza told a newspaper reporter: "None of these studies was designed to show that these Camel ads increased smoking among kids." DiFranza also found, but did not report, that 94% of the students who thought Joe Camel was "cool" also thought "smoking makes you unpopular;" 95% thought "smoking makes you unattractive." The Camel brand's share of the overall market has remained at about 4% since before the campaign began in late 1987. The kind of growth among youth that Dr. DiFranza claims would have raised the total brand share. •

" In a paper presented at the 1995 Marketing and Public Policy Conference, Joel S. Dubow, professor at St. Joseph's University and an editorial referee for the Journal of Advertising Research, stated: "The errors of method and conclusion which occur in DiFranza et al are overwhelming. They consist of both errors of scientific method and what appear to be lapses of integrity on the part of the authors. .., And, we ought to ask, also, whether the actions of DiFranza et al constitute an incident of scientific fraud." 0

"The FTC dismissed this study early in its investigation of the Joe Camel campaign (see above)."


Anonymous said...

A quick google for the second link shows it's dead but offered this tease of a behind-a-paywall article netted from a google of "DiFranza, Camel" Seems this article may tell the true story but from the POV of "science" injured by big biz while the first one, now gone, told it as biz injured by bad fraudulent science.


Anonymous said...

So far, my first post, with the first meaty link and excerpts don't seem to be showing up. I'll check back later and repost if it's not here by tonight.