Drinkaware backs calorie message for alcohol

19 March, 2010

Consumers find calorie content “far more motivating” than units in understanding alcohol content, the new communications boss at alcohol education body Drinkaware has claimed.

Paul Hegarty said the chairty would focus on calories in future responsible drinking campaigns in an effort to get people to reassess how much they are drinking.

But Hegarty said units still had a key role to play in the alcohol education process.

The Conservative party has said it will replace alcohol unit labelling with a system based around cl content if it wins the next election.

“Calories are something we are very much looking at,” said Hegarty. “The calorie message is a far more compelling one.”

Hegarty joined Drinkaware at the beginning of the year from Molson Coors, which has done marketing around calorie content, including the 99-calorie Carling bottle which went on sale last year,

Providing information on calories is “a message that gets there more effectively” than telling consumers about how many units they should be drinking,” Hegarty added.

“The calories message helps makes unit real because there might be people who are drinking who are not overweight,” he said.

“Especially with women it can be a powerful message.”

Speaking at the Association of Convenience Stores’ Responsible Retailing Forum last week, Hegarty said it was vital Drinkaware avoided patronising consumers.

“If we are going to change attitudes we have to communicate as a friend rather than a nanny,” he said.

“We are not the alcohol Taliban, we are not anti-drink. We want people to go out and enjoy a drink but do it in a responsible fashion.”

Jessica McQueen, head of marketing for alcohol misuse at he Department of Health, said that using shock tactics or “scary campaigns and finger wagging” would fail to change consumers’ drinking habits.

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