Diageo hires Hanover as alcohol concerns grow

Diageo, the world's largest alcoholic-drinks group, has brought in Hanover Communications as its ­retained UK public affairs agency.

Smirnoff: Diageo brand
Smirnoff: Diageo brand

The drinks firm has called in the agency following a nine-way pitch.

The account is thought to be worth at least £100,000 a year. Diageo ­previously used Reputation Inc for ­public ­affairs. The switch comes as the Government steps up its efforts to curb binge-drinking.

The Government’s latest alcohol strategy, published in June, stated ministers’ ­intentions to change the commonly held view that it is socially acceptable to get drunk.

Meanwhile, a Department of Health study group has been examining whether price and promotion has an impact on alcohol consumption. The department is urging the industry to introduce labels on bottles to warn about foetal alcohol syndrome.

By the end of 2008, the Government expects all ­alcoholic drinks labels to ­include alcohol-unit information.

In Scotland, the Scottish Executive has drawn up stringent proposals regarding price and how alcohol should be displayed on the shop floor.

Hanover MD Charles Lewington said: ‘We will be helping Diageo to raise awareness of its ­responsible-drinking ­activities in government. We will also be ­advising on ­ongoing ­discussions with ­officials about the best way of ­promoting responsible ­consumption.’

Diageo UK government affairs manager Rachael Robertson said: ‘We are looking forward to working with Hanover as we face the currently challenging policy environment.’

Diageo’s brands include Smirnoff, Guinness, Johnnie Walker, Baileys and Gordon’s Gin.

Rival drinks firm InBev recently handed a wide-ranging UK public affairs brief to Fleishman-Hillard (PRWeek, 10 August).

InBev – whose brands include Stella Artois, Becks, Boddingtons and Hoegarden – previously carried out lobbying work in-house.

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