Today’s Business Report points out that SABMiller is going to invest almost R20 billion in other African countries now representing its fastest growing market for beer.
Mark Bowman SABMiller’s (managing director for Africa) pointed out that people on the continent (excluding South Africa) consume only 8 litres of commercial beer per person per year and he wanted to increase this to 30 litres per person per year over the next 20 years.
Bowman is really saying he wants to take more money from poor people on the poorest continent. SABMiller is the parent company of SAB in South Africa.
South African Breweries (SAB) and its followers in the alcohol industry has a well-oiled lobbying (I mean lying) machine. This lying machine has gone into over-drive because the Minister of Health, Dr. Aaron Motsoaledi has dared to the rights put life, health and dignity of people before profit by suggesting a ban on alcohol advertising.
Ironically, the lying spokesperson of former Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang is now the spokesperson for advertising the liquor industry. Sibani Mngadi, the public policy and sustainability manager at “brandhouse” whose “extensive range of products include J&B, Amstel and Johnnie Walker said without any basis in fact that “the proposed ban would not reduce alcohol misuse but would have an adverse economic impact”. Sadly, the business press is failing to analyse the real costs to lives, families, households, the economy and public health in their attempt to defend industry.
I support a ban on alcohol advertising because alcohol impacts on personal and public health; road and community safety; as well as, family and community well-being. Alcoholism is the largest substance abuse problem in our country wreaking havoc on our communities.
Banning the advertising of alcohol must be the first step of a comprehensive plan to prevent, treat and mitigate the impact of alcoholism. The industry lying machine suggests that there is “no evidence” that alcohol abuse will be reduced by advertising. They miss the point.
The proposed ban on advertising will stop making alcohol use “look cool” and through it prevent the targeted advertising among the vulnerable (especially children and unemployed) to promote buying beer, wine and spirits.
Evidence is important but policies and programmes are never solely based on evidence. All policy must strive to be evidence informed. There is more than sufficient evidence to show that individual and social harm from alcohol abuse is greater than for instance the use of cigarettes.
Personal health: alcohol is the most common form of substance abuse. The mental health, employment prospects and quality of life of an individual who abuses alcohol is severely compromised. People who abuse alcohol are individually susceptible to a range of illnesses including heart disease, HIV and TB. Their ability to take medicine requires intense support and counselling because their risk of defaulting is very high. Foetal alcohol is one of the most tragic consequences of enslaving people to alcohol.
The scale of alcoholism in South Africa makes it a critical public health question. Taking the population as a whole, adults in South Africa consume less alcohol than their counter-parts in many other regions of the world, (ours range between 10.3 and 12. litres). WHO research has shown that about 70% of women and 40% men in South Africa do not drink.
However, the consumption level of individual people who actually drink (as opposed to the teetotalling majority) alcohol consumption per adult drinker in South Africa among the highest in the world. For instance, Black Label beer sales alone exceed 1.4 billion 340ml bottles per year. Alcohol consumption and alcoholism among real youth as opposed to Julius Malema is also very high.
All the evidence on crime suggests that 73% of violent injuries sustained involve alcohol; brawls related to homicide between people who know each other and involve alcohol account for nearly a quarter of murders. Western Cape alcohol consumption and crime data is much worse than the rest of the country.
It is also argued by the industry lying machine that banning alcohol advertising violates the right to freedom of expression. SAB opposed freedom of speech when satirist Kustin Nurse exposed their slick advertising machine with his t-shirts “Black Labour, White Guilt”. They sued Nurse in what everyone described as a “David against Goliath battle” (See M&G 11 March 2005) .
Unlike in the US, people are the bearers of human rights such as freedom of expression not corporations. Nurse won his case because the right to freedom of expression and to satirise a big company was regarded as fundamental to democracy. Interestingly, SAB told the Courts how advertising increases sales and profits.
In the SAB case against Laugh It Off, the Constitutional Court addressed the question of alcohol consumption and freedom of expression. Deputy Chief Justice Moseneke outlined the facts and included this statement:
SAB tell us that the marks have become well-known and are used extensively across South Africa in relation to beer sales. In fact Black Label beer has been sold in this country through a variety of trade outlets, from shebeens to mega-wholesalers, for over 30 years. The label and get-up of the beer were selected because they have a very strong visual impact; something which, we are told, compliments the beer rather well. The product’s reputation has progressed to become one of the leading beer products in the country.
The volume of sales of Black Label beer for the 2000/2001 financial year is said to have exceeded 1.4 billion 340ml bottles. This, we are assured, translates to 350 bottles of 340ml for every man, woman and child of all 40 million of us in this country.
SAB points out that these excellent beer sales volumes are owed to the Black Label brand whose market popularity derives from costly, concerted and pervasive advertising in the form of sport sponsorships, television, radio, print media, coasters, posters, flags, T-shirts, billboards and advertising on taxis. (Emphasis added)
According to SAB itself, “market popularity derives from costly, concerted and pervasive advertising“. These are some of the issues that we must address. Let me make it clear — the enjoyment of alcohol is good. Its abuse causes enormous social dislocation. However, people who use responsibly and those already “hooked” through alcoholism will not suddenly stop drinking because advertising is banned.
Read the SABMiller 2011 Annual Report here. The power of its money alone quite apart from the wine and spirits industry will show why they resist the ban on advertising.
This post contains two articles from Business Report and the Constitutional Court judgment.
Drinks makers oppose ad ban
April 17 2012 at 05:00am
By Ann Crotty
More than seven out of 10 South Africans over the age of 15 do not drink alcohol. However, over 40 percent of the approximately 30 percent who do drink fall into the category of “heavy episodic drinkers”.
Industry sources say it is because of the damage caused by these “heavy episodic drinkers” that Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is pushing for a total ban on the marketing and promotion of alcohol.
Despite the high rate of abstinence in South Africa, the World Health Organisation (WHO) has given the country a ranking of four out of a possible five in terms of the risks attached to drinking patterns. The UK, which has an abstinence rate of only 35 percent, has a risk ranking of only two.
Motsoaledi has long proposed that the alcohol industry be subjected to the same restrictions on marketing and promotions as the smoking industry. In 2010 he said: “What is being done to smoking is going to be done to alcohol.”
The figures relating to South Africa’s alcohol environment are the latest available from the WHO and date back to 2006. Local industry sources indicate that there has been little change on the 2006 figures.
Yesterday the major players in the alcohol industry were heavily critical of media reports that Motsoaledi was intent on pushing ahead with legislation that would totally prohibit the marketing and promotion of alcohol. SABMiller subsidiary South African Breweries (SAB), which controls an estimated 89 percent of the local beer market, said it was deeply concerned by the news. It also noted that the legislation had been drafted without input from the industry.
“SAB is profoundly disappointed and concerned by the decision taken by the ministers of health and social development to consistently refuse to engage with the alcohol industry, despite the fact that we agree that alcohol abuse is at unacceptable levels… Both the ministries of health and social development appear to be increasingly taking a prohibitionist view on alcohol, which has had disastrous consequences in those parts of the world that have gone this route,” said Benedict Maaga, SAB’s media relations manager.
He added that while it was perfectly legitimate for those who were motivated by religious or moral beliefs to express their views on alcohol “it is inconceivable that government should draft such a bill without input from industry”.
Maaga said that SAB shared the concerns around the abuse of alcohol and believed that it must be tackled by all the interested parties. He said that the proposed draft bill appeared to tamper with an industry’s constitutional right to market products that were legal.
Sibani Mngadi, the public policy and sustainability manager at brandhouse, whose extensive range of products includes J&B, Amstel and Johnnie Walker, said the proposed ban would not reduce alcohol misuse but would have an adverse economic impact.
It was estimated that the industry spent about R2 billion on advertising each year.
Mngadi said brandhouse had engaged with the government and it was not given any reason to believe that a total ban on advertising and promotion was under consideration.
Spirits and wine producer Distell said that it shared the government’s concerns but opposed to a total ban as a means of preventing alcohol abuse. – Ann Crotty
SAB’s awesome marketing machinery and freedom of expression
SAB has deposed graphically to its awesome marketing machinery bolstered by impressive advertising spend on every conceivable medium including artefacts and, not least, T-shirts. … In theory and in live trade there is a direct link between the mark and sales. As it is often said, the mark actually sells the goods …
Booze ad ban: Panic over jobs
April 17 2012 at 09:03am
By Lynette Johns
Billions of rand and thousands of jobs will be lost if the Department of Health goes through with its plan to ban liquor companies from advertising and sponsoring teams, say the liquor industry, analysts and the opposition.
The draft bill has been labelled draconian, short-sighted, misguided and devastating to jobs.
Already an advertising agency has launched a petition opposing the proposed law. Tshepo Matsepe, co-owner of advertising company Kena Media, is spearheading opposition to the ban.
The Department of Health has confirmed that there is a draft bill “being considered” regarding alcohol advertising in the country, but it still has a number of processes to get through.
On Tuesday the DA’s spokesman on health, Denise Robinson, will request a copy of the draft bill so that they can study the document.
According to reports, the department, headed by Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, wants an outright ban on the liquor industry advertising and sponsoring events. The department has been working on the Control of Marketing of Alcoholic Beverages Bill.
Motsoaledi is on record as being “at war” with the liquor industry.
His spokesman, Fidel Hadebe, said the advertising and marketing of alcohol was “just one of the many avenues that are being considered as part of addressing this challenge”.
The DA and the alcohol industry have labelled the proposed draft bill draconian and loaded with unintended consequences.
The consensus, however, is that alcohol plays a huge role in abuse, crime and road accident deaths and injuries, and places a huge burden on state resources.
Banning advertising and sponsorships is not the answer, the DA’s spokesman on Trade and Industry, Wilmot James, said on Monday.
SAB said the bill had been drafted without input from the industry.
“SAB is profoundly disappointed and concerned by the decision taken by both the ministers of Health and Social Development to consistently refuse to engage with the alcohol industry, despite the fact that we agree that alcohol abuse is at unacceptable levels in South Africa.
“Both the ministries of Health and Social Development appear to be increasingly taking a prohibitionist view on alcohol, which has had disastrous consequences in those parts of the world that have gone this route,” SAB said.
The alcohol industry has traditionally been one of the strongest users of sponsorship to market its products and brands globally. It also spends billions on advertising, with R400 million alone going to the SABC.
Local alcohol brands can account for as much as 10 percent of total direct spend in sponsorship, close to R1 billion.
David Sidenberg, a partner at BMI Sports Info, said sponsorship spend in total in SA, including leveraging rights, came to R7bn.
The alcohol industry was one of the biggest sponsors of sporting events and their exit would be noticed and would be difficult to fill, he said.
James said that while alcohol abuse needed to be curbed, it was an “inappropriate and wrong-headed” response to the problem.
Adrian Botha, director of the Industry Association for Responsible Alcohol Use, said it had not been consulted. He said banning advertising and sponsorship would lead to thousands of job losses and freezing of market share. It would be difficult for black entrepreneurs to take on giants like SAB, he said.
At a recent conference called by the Department of Trade and Industry’s National Liquor Authority, banning of advertising and sponsorship had not been discussed, Botha said.
Therefore, the Department of Health’s move had “come out of the blue”. “No one has had any input at all and this could be the department going for broke,” Botha said.
Matsepe’s petition has been sent across the country and thousands have signed it. He was quoted as saying that the advertising industry was not opposed to raising awareness about responsible liquor trading and consumption, but he was concerned that severe restrictions would affect a number of industries, not only advertising companies.
Economist Dawie Roodt said the government was systematically taking away people’s right to be responsible. While he understood the rationale behind sin taxes and laws, he could not understand why the state thought they “can manage me”.
Sibani Mngadi, public policy and sustainability manager at Brandhouse, said they engaged directly with the government to promote responsible drinking, but “the proposed ban will not reduce alcohol misuse and will have an adverse economic impact”.
Brandhouse, in its engagements with the government, had focused on improving the effectiveness of responsible marketing codes.
Brandhouse sponsors the J&B Met, the Drive Dry Campaign, Brandhouse Number 1 Taxi Driver (with the Department of Transport), Responsible Drinking Media Awards, Amstel Class Act and the local broadcast of Uefa Champions League matches.
Vernon de Vries, Distell Ltd director for corporate affairs, said it was opposed to a total ban on liquor advertising.
“An advertising ban will favour those products which are already well established and will prejudice new entrants, thus impeding free market competition,” he said.
“As has been emphasised repeatedly by the president and the National Planning Commission, the creation of jobs remains South Africa’s single biggest challenge.
“Various economic commentators and the advertising industry have made a strong case regarding the job losses and unfavourable economic impact that will inevitably follow a total ban such as the draft bill proposes,” he said. “Distell is constantly engaging with the government about this issue and several others regarding the liquor beverages industry and we remain hopeful of an outcome that will achieve the nine steps set out in the National Planning Commission’s Vision 2030,” De Vries said.
Timeline for a bill not everybody wants:
In December 2010, Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini and Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi announced steps to draw up new legislation to ban alcohol brands from advertising.
Late last year, Dlamini confirmed that severe restrictions on alcohol ads would be tabled before the cabinet within two months, focusing on location, time and space rather than a total ban.
Commentators said potential loss of jobs and income in advertising and sponsorships would run into billions.
In February, Motsoaledi announced that draft legislation for the ban would be released for public comment.
On Monday, Business Day quoted a leaked copy of the draft bill, saying it sought to:
* Totally prohibit advertising of alcoholic products.
* Permit only notices “describing the price, brand name, type, strength, origin and composition of the product” to be displayed inside licensed and registered premises.
* Prohibit the display of names and logos of alcoholic beverages on delivery vehicles.
* Prohibit linking sports sponsorship to alcoholic brands.
* Prohibit the promotion of alcoholic beverages through donations and discounts at events. – Cape ArgusTags: Aaron Motsoaledi, Alcohol advertising ban, alcoholism, Articles, beer sales, Black Labour White Guilt, Constitutional Court, crime, Current Affairs, Deputy Chief Justice Dikgang Moseneke, freedom of expression, health, Laugh It Off, News & Analysis, public health, SAB Ltd, SABMiller