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Published:  23 July, 2008

By Jack Hibberd

Allied Domecq, the wine and spirits giant, announced last week that it would be carrying social responsibility' messages urging moderate drinking in advertising for all its spirits brands. These include Beefeater Gin, Teacher's Whisky and Lamb's Navy Rum. Contrary to reports in last week's national newspapers, the warnings will not appear in adverts for other Allied Domecq products, such as Mumm Champagne, Harvey's Bristol Cream Sherry, or Cockburn's Port. The first adverts to feature the new strap-lines will be those for Ballantine's whisky: Go Play. Play better. Play in moderation' and for the cream liqueur Tia Lusso: You just know. You just know to drink in moderation.' Kim Manley, Allied Domecq's chief marketing officer, said the company wanted to take a leadership position in the industry' on the issue of alcohol abuse. It plans to eventually put the messages on bottles. If we are going to regulate ourselves effectively, then hopefully the Government won't feel the need to regulate,' said Jane Mussared, Allied Domecq's director of corporate affairs. Helena Conibear, editorial director of AIM, called it a positive move', while Jean Coussins, director of the Portman Group, was also enthusiastic. The drinks industry has an excellent track record of compliance with advertising and marketing Codes of Practice. But this is a good example of how it has always been willing to go the extra mile in helping to encourage sensible drinking. Drinks companies have everything to gain by including responsibility messages in a stylish way as part of their brand advertising,' added Coussins. Ironically, Allied Domecq is the only major British drinks company that is not a member of the Portman Group, a pan-industry organisation. It is not clear if members of the Group, which include Pernod-Ricard and Diageo Great Britain, will follow Allied Domecq. Bacardi-Martini said it had only just received information on Allied's decision and was currently studying the aspects'. At this stage we have no plans to follow the move,' said a company spokesperson. Alcohol Concern was less impressed with the move. It sounds like a publicity stunt to me,' a spokesman said. If they are serious about public health, they should carry real health information on the label.'