12 October 2012
The European Alcohol Policy Alliance (Eurocare) is a European umbrella organisation representing more than 50 NGOs from 22 countries. Eurocare actively takes part in policy discussions and debates when alcohol is discussed in the EU, and alcohol marketing is one of the policy areas we are working on.
The EU does not have any harmonized approach to alcohol marketing, and there are very different regulations on marketing from one country to another. The topic most discussed at EU level when it comes to marketing is the debate on voluntary actions and self-regulation of the alcohol industry, which is an approach we in Eurocare see as a very weak policy tool to regulate exposure of alcohol, both in terms of content (what is shown) and volume (the quantity shown).
Being aware of different realities and practices around in Europe is a value we see as crucial for us when discussing alcohol marketing. To enable us to be more aware of the variations and practices, we initiated an activity where we wanted people from all over Europe to report on their exposure to alcohol marketing during one day (Friday 14 September). We sent a request out, and our task is now to collect, go through and analyse the results we have. Do people in Lithuania report on more exposure than Denmark? What kind of marketing patterns are there in Czech Republic? These are some of the questions we want to know.
A dream scenario would be for us to have a catalogue full of picture from every country in Europe, from any age group, different income levels and education, from a high number of people. Or…maybe the dream scenario would be a catalogue with no pictures, because there simply was no alcohol marketing in Europe? Anyway – the reality is neither of the scenarios, but that we are a small organisation with limited capacity, but we still want to make an effort. And the knowledge gathered from the marketing snapshot is a tool to enable us to do so.
We are still working on the findings, but we can easily see some trends in what people reported. The first thing that crosses the mind when looking at the reports and pictures is the quantity of big brands exposed permanently outdoor. A huge share of the reported exposure is signs, billboards, and parasols at cafes with branding on them. Another finding is that people reported much less than expected on online exposure. There can be many reasons for this, for example the age of the informants or practical solutions for reporting. However, it is an interesting observation. When talking about the informants; the female part of the population handed in more reports than their counterpart, which can of course also have an impact on what is reported and seen.
These were just some quick initial findings, and we will produce a report where we present all the information. Follow our activity online on Facebook or Twitter to keep updated on the developments!
This year’s exercise was the first of this kind from Eurocare, and we will do another try next year. The information we gather will be used as examples and we hope to expand this knowledge and documentation further.
Policy Officer, Eurocare