The Portman Group was set up in 1989 by the UK’s leading drinks producers to promote responsible drinking. As stories about Britain’s binge-drinking culture became a media staple, the group was keen to help consumers assess how much alcohol they were drinking, and show that the industry can regulate itself. Last year, it developed the drinkaware.co.uk website with Craik Jones.
To use media coverage to prompt consumers to log on to drinkaware.co.uk. To raise awareness of how much alcohol is in a unit and how much consumers should be drinking. To underline that The Portman Group – and therefore the drinks industry – was behind the site.
The target audience was broad – there is a section for under-18s on the website, as well as sections for pregnant women, older people and sportspeople. The website was launched at a drinks industry seminar, and press releases were sent out under embargo to all national and regional press and broadcast newsdesks. Sky News covered the launch and other broadcast media set up interviews for later in the day. BBC News was alerted to coincide with a planned feature on responsibility initiatives within the drinks industry.
To ensure the initiative was not just associated with drinking in pubs, the team asked large supermarkets to promote the website through point-of-sale material and in-house magazines.
The launch coincided with brewers Coors and Scottish and Newcastle’s announcement that they would carry the website address on drinks brands Carling and Newcastle Brown Ale, and the screening of Smirnoff, Baileys and Bell’s Whisky ads, which also carried the drinkaware logo. These were used as extra news hooks.
The team also informed the Department of Health (DoH) about the campaign and, on the day of the launch, health secretary Dr John Reid issued a statement supporting the initiative.
Measurement and evaluation
In-house evaluation is not yet complete, but the launch was covered by eight national newspapers, 43 regional newspapers, two trade publications, and had 37 broadcast mentions. The website is now being promoted in Asda supermarkets and by the Ocado online shopping portal, and will soon be appearing on DoH information leaflets.
As of December 2004, the website was getting an average of 17,000 hits a day. Journalist Claire Wu, who covered the launch for industry bible The Grocer, says: ‘The Portman Group is very good at publicising what it is doing and getting us all the information we need.’