on her majesty’s service (aka defending the digital industry and wkd in the government alcohol inquiry) July 21, 2009Posted by nicholas gill in Alcohol Inquiry, digital, Health Committee, Portman Group, WKD.
I recently had the pleasure (?) of representing my client, WKD, and the digital industry by giving evidence in front of HM Government’s Health Committee. An interesting experience that was a mixture of excitement and trepidation. By way of background, the Health Committee initiated a wide-ranging inquiry into alcohol based partly on the small minority of our country who abuse alcohol and ruin it for the rest of us. Part of that encompassed producers and their agencies. We were asked to submit a series of documentation pertaining to our digital communications for WKD. Subsequently, I was requested to appear as a witness to give evidence to the committee.
Huge kudos to the team at WKD for the preparation they put us through and the focusing of messages and support information (see me shuffling my papers at the start of the video as proof) – especially important given the false media portrayal of RTDs. I felt confident that I knew my lines and using my usual tactic, I followed Robbie Williams’ stage advice by letting the band play and then singing along. Over-rehearsal comes across as dull. I prefer spontaneity and fleet of foot. Don’t take this as me being cocky, this is just the way I am. I don’t think I’ve felt as nervous as that in the 10 minutes before kick off in a while; probably not since the successful global Shell pitch a couple of years back. I’m proud of the role I played in the proceedings as it’s not something that a lot of people can say they’ve done – appearing in front of an MP’s committee. The questioning was primarily aimed at restricting content to under 18’s which we actively use the Portman guidelines and an effective deterrent in an age verification page. Although the MP’s made some sweeping statements about the effectiveness of it, it’s the current accepted standard and unless I’m mistaken, there is nothing more effective that alcohol brands could deploy.
Having seen the full session, it sounds like the Committee will be looking to ensure the digital guidelines are as stringent as other media and recommend a minimum pricing for alcohol. On the former, this is something that WKD and other alcohol brands who are members of Portman actively subscribe to and uphold as a normal course of action, so this clarification would be welcomed. Those brands who are not members and less responsible should take note. On the latter point around minimum pricing, it’s unlikely this would affect the premium brands who were called as witnesses and is more of an issue for the tertiary, un-branded alcohol products that are highly correlated to under age and anti-social drinking.
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