Drinks giant Diageo hands 'responsible drinking' brief to Edelman

Diageo GB has signed over its public affairs and responsible drinking campaigns to Edelman as it prepares to go to battle with the Government over changes to alcohol tax.

Against tax hikes on alcohol: Diageo
Against tax hikes on alcohol: Diageo

Diageo - responsible for Guinness, Smirnoff Vodka and Baileys - is keen to be at the centre of the debate over alcohol taxation.

The alcohol industry is expected to feel the weight of firmer taxation, despite the Government deciding against raising drinks tax in June's emergency Budget.

Diageo GB CSR and communications manager Rebecca Perry confirmed: 'The media relations brief calls for someone to leverage our responsible drinking programme, which deals with the media debate around alcohol. The public affairs brief deals with our reputation with political stakeholders.'

Prime Minister David Cameron is planning a reform of the Licensing Act along with a ban on below-cost selling and a policy decision on alcohol labelling.

The firm - one of the biggest funders of responsible drinking campaigns in the UK - and high-profile CEO Paul Walsh have in the past come out forcefully against minimum alcohol pricing and steep alcohol tax increases, as well as questioning the link between excessive drinking and advertising.

Hanover previously handled the public affairs work, while Blue Rubicon held the responsible drinking media relations account.

Five agencies were in the running for the brief, including Portland PR, Blue Rubicon, Hanover and The Altitude Consultancy - the agency run by BAA's former group public affairs director Steve Hardwick.

The news follows Edelman's appointment last October to run Diageo's corporate business. In addition, the drinks company retains Brunswick for financial support.

TIME LINE

January 2010: Department of Health launches a £6m campaign to warn drinkers of the health damage caused by regularly exceeding weekly units

November 2009: The DCSF appoints The Red Consultancy to handle a drive against underage drinking

July 2009: Britain's drinks industry launches Campaign for Smarter Drinking backed by Diageo.

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