Minister draws fire from drinks industry over ads

LONDON - The drinks industry has reacted with fury to suggestions by the children's secretary Ed Balls that it targets youngsters through its advertising.

Over the weekend, Balls announced an inquiry into the commercialisation of children as part of his 10-year Children's Plan.

As revealed last week by Marketing on, he also cited an Alcohol Concern study, which he said showed a spike in ads between 4pm and 6pm, and revealed plans for a probe into drinks ads and underage drinking. The activity is widely seen as bringing closer a 9pm watershed for alcohol ads.

David Poley, chief executive of the Portman Group, rubbished the study as 'riddled with mistakes'.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for Scottish & Newcastle said it strongly refuted any suggestions it targets children. 'Aside from the legal and moral issues, creating ads that appeal to under-18s, and buying slots in shows that do not deliver maximum audience value makes no sense.'

Mike Hughes, director general of ISBA, said: 'The industry is doing all the responsible things. A lot of these attacks come from people opposed to advertising.'

Additional online comments:

Gareth Roberts, head of sponsorship and media, Carlsberg UK, said: "We are committed to social responsibility. When it comes to a watershed for drinks advertising the evidence we have got and research that has done shows that it won't make any difference. Under 18s will still be exposed to drinks advertising after 9pm.From a commercial point of view, restricting the times of our advertising could potentially mean advertising at that time would be charged at a premium."

Peta Buscombe, chief executive, Advertising Association, said: "There are very strong rules about how and what you can advertise around children's TV programmes. Advertising on television must conform to strict codes of practice that include rules to address pester power such as restrictions that ads must not directly urge children to buy products or to ask adults to buy products for them."



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