Diageo hires Reputation Inc and C&W to CSR accounts

Diageo GB has hired Reputation Inc and Cohn & Wolfe to steer its CSR programme as the drinks giant bolsters its efforts to counter the rise in binge drinking.

Both agencies have been appointed to the newly created accounts after competitive pitches.

Reputation Inc is tasked with communicating Diageo’s CSR activities to Government and NGOs. It has also been handed a more general public affairs remit, representing the company on issues such as taxation, licensing laws and other alcohol-related reforms – these were previously managed in-house.

C&W’s brief is to promote CSR initiatives to consumers through media relations, sponsorships, public events and via the internet.

‘Reputation Inc will provide us with solid strategic support, while Cohn & Wolfe’s job is to provide PR support to bring social responsibility to life,’ said Diageo GB head of social responsibility Kate Blakeley.

Corporate affairs director Tony Mair oversaw the pitches. John Mahony is leading the programme for Reputation Inc, with Cohn & Wolfe’s corporate affairs director Stephen Doherty heading the account for C&W.

The company marked a watershed in advertising over the summer, when it ran a TV ad for its Smirnoff vodka brand encouraging consumers to ‘drink in moderation’. It carried the tagline ‘Knowing when to drink is a good thing’.

Diageo is now exploring ways to extend the strategy to its other brands, which include Guinness, Archers, Baileys and Johnnie Walker, as well as group-wide initiatives.

‘The majority of people in the UK drink sensibly, but there is a rising minority who drink to excess. We have a huge role to play in recognising and tackling this issue,’ said Blakeley.

However, detractors have criticised the company’s CSR initiatives as nothing more than an attempt to be seen to be doing something in order to stave off legislation.

In addition to binge-drinking, the briefs will tackle societal issues such as drink- driving and the responsible marketing of alcohol to young people. The latter is particularly relevant to the youth-oriented ready-to-drink category, which takes in brands such as Diageo’s Smirnoff Ice.

Diageo GB is currently reviewing the consumer PR accounts for Smirnoff Red and Smirnoff Ice (PRWeek, 24 October).

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