Minister draws fire from drinks industry over ads

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 brandrepublic.com, 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.'

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