2003 saw an important round of conferences in Europe, with social
responsibility and a pro-active industry as a central theme. Hot on the footsteps of the Amsterdam Group (TAG) conference reported
in the September/October edition of AIM, the World Advertising
and Research Centre and ADMAP hosted the 8th Alcoholic Drinks
Conference which focused on Social Leadership within the Social
The essence of the conference was to see corporate social leadership
as a marketing opportunity and key to company policy throughout
all departments rather than being periphery to business. A quote
from Pricewaterhouse Coopers summarised the position well; A companys most important asset is its reputation. And a study by Heineken presented at the AIM/WSA conference
on self regulation and social responsibility showed that the beverage
alcohol industry needs to build trust and reputation as the public
believe the industry to be less responsible than the petro-chemical
industry, pharmaceuticals and GM companies, in fact only tobacco
This was closely followed by a fascinating seminar hosted by the
British Beer and Pub Association and Anheuser Busch on the Social
Norm Approach to reducing alcohol misuse in the City of Manchester
(UK) and in US Colleges and Universities.
Social Norming involves education campaigns that look to reverse
binge drinking in colleges through publishing facts and figures.
Experience shows that banning alcohol on campus or saying dont
drink does not work. Social Norming uses figures to illustrate
that most people drink sensibly to show that excess is the exception
rather than the norm. The idea is to remove the pressure that
college freshmen feel to drink to excess to fit in as the norm
has incorrectly been believed to be binge drinking rather than
Finally the Brewers of Europe held a conference on Beer and Health
in Brussels and were able to announce that a European equivalent
of the ABRMF for Europe has now commissioned its first research.
The initiative, guided by Professor Oliver James of the University
of Newcastle aims to help fund impartial alcohol research which
to date is under funded in Europe.