Pernod Ricard’s weak shot of responsible drinking


This nut has spent the first few days of January getting rid of a case of cottonmouth from a too-enthusiastic performance at an underground new year’s rave—and incriminating videos that briefly surfaced. So Ad Nut is fully aware of the effects—and aftereffects—that alcohol can have on your system. Cue the heightened senses, the merrymaking and the too loud jokes. Then, the scarfing down of questionable late-night food and the rise of alcohol-laced bile after the ingestion of one too many kebabs at 4 am. 

If you’ve been drinking for any length of time, you know (or are at least have been told), how to handle your tipple. Line your stomach, ideally with greasy food, before you binge; hydrate yourself through the night and likely the early part of the next day; don’t mix different types of alcohol; and of course, don’t drink and drive. We’ve all been there, been hectored and have either followed or ignored these lectures. 

Which makes Ad Nut wonder what gives with Pernod Ricard’s latest social-media campaign, which it launched in Hong Kong and will eventually roll out in four other markets (Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and the Philippines). Maybe there’s more to come, but so far Ad Nut is not impressed with what looks like a halfhearted effort at best.

The month-long campaign, through MullenLowe, aims to educate young adults on the dangers of binge drinking and to encourage drinking in moderation, according to the maker of some of Ad Nut’s favourite brands, such as Aberlour, The Glenlivet, Absolut and Beefeater. 

While the company may have revenue of nearly €9 billion from encouraging people to drink, it seems to want the same folk to be careful as well. The new campaign will consist of two phases. The first will focus on raising awareness about how much drinking is binge drinking, the dangers related to this drinking practice and how to drink responsibly, using a campaign video (the example above is for Hong Kong, the company said it will be tweaked in the other markets). The second phase will evaluate the impact of the campaign by measuring the knowledge lift of those who have been exposed to the campaign through an incentivised quiz. Presumably with vouchers and/or discounts.

Pernod Ricard says the campaign forms part of a long-standing commitment to promote responsible drinking. In 2021, it launched its Bar World of Tomorrow initiative in Hong Kong, a global training programme created in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The course is dedicated to teaching bartenders sustainable and responsible practices, including tips on responsible hosting. Partnering with Food Made Good HK, the training has reached close to 100 bartenders and managers from several of Hong Kong’s most popular bars.

Another example of Pernod Ricard’s commitment to responsible drinking was the launch of a digital campaign in 2021 in Europe, Africa and Latin America, which aimed to tackle binge drinking through a simple and universal call-to-action: ‘Drink More…Water.’ With ‘Make Memories, Not Hangovers’ in Asia, the Group aims to extend a message of responsibility around the world.

While this nut is all for companies and brands acting more responsibly, it’s hard to swallow (pardon the pun) a highly profitable global alcohol corporation taking such a simplistic and frankly dated approach to an issue it claims is at the core of its global strategy. While consumers are already suspicious of companies’ altruistic intent when it comes to campaigns like this, launching something so dated and feeble isn’t likely to win over this woodland creature, or anyone else, anytime soon. 

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