Tag Archives: Diageo

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Last night, Fergus Finlay, chairman of the the Stop Out-of-Control Drinking campaign – which is being funded by drinks company Diageo – was on Prime Time with Senator Jillian Van Turnout, a member of the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children, to discuss the issues around a drinks company funding a campaign to curb problem drinking.

Here’s what was said..

Jillian Turnout: “My difficulty is that we actually have plenty of reports in Ireland, you know, on what we need to do and we need to get about doing it. And that’s why I wonder why this organisation and grouping is about. We have this Strategic Task Force and Alcohol Report from 2002, the Substance Misuse Strategy Group which the drinks industry frustrated, delayed, tried to stop that report coming out. And eventually the report came out in 2012, what does the drinks industry do? Produce a minority report. The Public Health Alcohol Bill is now on the table, I want to see that into legislation. That’s about pricing, that’s about availability..”

Fergus Finlay: “So do I, so do I, Gillian, so do we.”

Van Turnout: “But the reality is Diageo in Scotland are taking the Scottish government to court over minimum pricing. So, my belief is, with this campaign, which Diageo initiated, they’ve funded, they’re sitting on the board of it. My belief is, it’s great because Diageo can say, when minimum pricing comes in, but we’re trying to do this great thing, let us do this.”

Miriam O’Callaghan: “OK, let Fergus come in. And the Scottish point, they are part of that class action.”

Finlay: “So I believe, I don’t know how long that is going on. They have, you know, I hold no truck with them, I don’t support it, I am totally in favour, as is our campaign of the alcohol bill that Leo Varadkar produced. And I’ve said that, I’m on record as saying that.”

Van Turnout: “Not everybody on your board is in favour of it. Because Diageo are on the board of the campaign, Fergus, that’s…”

Finlay: “One vote in 12, if we ever have a vote, Jillian.”

Van Turnout: “Yes, but they hold the purse strings.”

Finlay: “Look, Jillian, we are a group of independent people.”

Van Turnout: “I have no doubt. But get behind the campaign, get behind the public…”

Finlay: “Well, I’m not sure you’ve no doubt, I’m not sure you’ve no doubt.”

Van Turnout: “I do, Fergus. I’ve never questioned that but get behind the public health experts. We see the Royal College of Physicians in Ireland today, the alcohol…”

Finlay: “You see the problem, there is a particular problem and, with the best will in the world,  with all the activists, all the campaigns, all the things that we’ve been involved in now down through the years haven’t cracked this problem.”

Van Turnout: “Has got us to the stage of this bill. This bill will make the difference, we’ve got there.

Finlay: “We haven’t cracked the problem of  out of control drinking and this bill won’t do it on its own.”

O’Callaghan: “People would say… the Out of Control Drinking, it’s almost the result of out- of-control marketing, as somebody said to me today. And what the drinks industry, maybe, is trying to do is make it look like it’s not their responsibility what’s happened. In fact, it’s the responsibility of a couple of crazy out-of-control drinkers. Nothing to do with them.”

Finlay: “You see, what we’re doing, what we’re doing, I’ve just come from a public meeting. A hundred ordinary people gathered in a room, full of ideas…”

O’Callaghan: “Well intentioned, I don’t doubt that.”

Van Turnout: “Absolutely.”

Finlay: “Stop being so patronising. They are decent, ordinary people…”

O’Callaghan: “They’re being funded by Diageo.”

Finlay: “They’re not being funded by anybody. The people who came up to that meeting tonight are ordinary members of the public and they came up, full of ideas about how we can change this. We’re going to produce a plan. And I really, really…”

Van Turnout: “But we’ve plenty of plans.”

O’Callaghan: “Just let him say this and I’ll bring you back in.”

Finlay: “I really think it’s kind of unfair, at this stage, to be rushing to judgement, before anybody sees the plan.  We want to produce a plan that will challenge people, challenge Government, challenge the industry, challenge all of us, to do something once and for all, about a problem that is destroying Ireland.”

O’Callaghan: “Can I just say there is irrefutable, scientific evidence that upping the price of alcohol reduces consumption. Diageo and the drinks industry are against that?”

Finlay: “There’s irrefutable evidence aswell…”

Van Turnout: “Maybe I could have an opportunity to speak…”

Finlay: “Sorry. Yes, of course.”

Van Turnout: “My difficulty is, Fergus, that we already have plenty of reports. My experience is that the drinks industry love us to have reports and to discuss about having reports because then they can delay and stop us actually taking action – where we should be putting all our energies and resources. My difficulty with the campaign is that the credibility, the reputations of the organisation are a smokescreen. And I really believe, we, as civil society, should be getting behind public health experts.”

O’Callaghan: “Should you give him the benefit of the doubt?”

Van Turnout: “Well, I’d love to be doing that and maybe, Miriam, I would have done that 10 years ago but I’ve written two European reports on alcohol-related harm. And, at the first stage, the drinks industry met with me. They were charming, they said all the right things, they said everything. When I started producing the reports, based on evidence, they changed their tactics, they personally tried to undermine me, the organisation I worked for, the European Economic Social Committee, they can turn nasty, very, very quickly when you’re not on message with them.”

O’Callaghan: “Ok, let Fergus come back on that.”

Finlay: “We’re going to be on message with the people of Ireland and we’re going to be on message with our own campaign. Do you know, Gillian? The thing I’ve always admired most about you, when you left an independent job to become a Senator, you vowed that, notwithstanding taking a Senate seat from Fine Gael, that you would retain your independence and you’ve done it. You’ve been absolutely independent and honest and open and I utterly respect that. And I think you have to respect the independence of people, many of whom you know and worked with, who are sitting…”

Van Turnout: “I do and I love your energy behind the public health professionals, the doctors, the practitioners, they’re the people…”

Finlay: “Our energy is behind anything that will work…”

Van Turnout: “They’re the people, they’re not in that campaign, the doctors, the practitioners.”

Talk over each other

O’Callaghan: “Whoever pays the piper plays the tune, don’t they?”

Finlay: “Well, let’s see, Miriam, let’s see.”

O’Callaghan: “Do they talk to you at all about this controversy? About what you should say? Have you had any discussions with Diageo?”

Finlay: “I had discussions at the very start with Diageo. I said we’ll…”

O’Callaghan: “During the current controversy?”

Finlay: “We’ll do this campaign, we’ll do this campaign on the basis of a guarantee, an absolute guarantee of independence and no interference. I’ll be honest with you. I’m not going to apologise to anybody for spending as much of Diageo’s money as I possibly can with my colleagues, to try and reduce the harmful effects of alcohol abuse.”

O’Callaghan: “But have they talked to you, Fergus, about this controversy that’s going on right now.”

Finlay: “Which controversy?”

O’Callaghan: “The fact that people, like Jillian and a number of people have written letters..”

Finlay: “No, no.”

O’Callaghan: “They haven’t.”

Finlay: “No.”

O’Callaghan: “Ok.”

Finlay: “No, they’ve they haven’t…I mean, you know, I’m working around the clock with my day job and this…”

Van Turnout: “Yeah, but it’s interesting that Diageo won’t provide a spokesperson to be on any of the programmes that I’ve been on. They won’t provide somebody…”

Finlay: “You’ve been attacking the campaign and I’ve been trying to defend that campaign.”

Van Turnout: “Attacking the involvement of Diageo in a public health campaign.”

O’Callaghan: “Thank you for coming in. Fergus Finlay, I appreciate you coming in too.”

Listen back in full here

This story may help.

Independent beer maker BrewDog were expecting to do well at Scotland’s BII awards (for the licenced trade) at the weekend, sponsored by Diageo.

James from Brewdog writes:

However we were not announced as winners of the award. This disappointment was further compounded when one of the judges (seated at our table) told us in disbelief ‘this simply cannot be, the independent judging panel voted for BrewDog as clear winners of the award’.

Events took a further twist when the people who got given the award refused to accept it as it clearly had ‘BrewDog’ engraved on the trophy as winners.

On Tuesday, 2 days after the award, I (James) took a phone call from Kenny Mitchell, Chairman of the BII in Scotland and Chairman of the Award Committee explaining the situation. To directly quote Kenny:

‘We are all ashamed and embarrassed about what happened. The awards have to be an independent process and BrewDog were the clear winner’

‘Diageo (the main sponsor) approached us at the start of the meal and said under no circumstances could the award be given to BrewDog. They said if this happened they would pull their sponsorship from all future BII events and their representatives would not present any of the awards on the evening.’

We were as gobsmacked as you by Diageo’s behaviour. We made the wrong decision under extreme pressure. We were blackmailed and bullied by Diageo. We should have stuck to our guns and gave the award to BrewDog.‘

Diageo Screws BrewDog (BrewDog)

Thanks Bibi Baskin Robbins

Dublin Chamber of Commerce estimate that the publicity generated for Guinness over the course of the President Obama and Queen Elizabeth visits is worth well over $200 million.

Diageo’s Ireland MD John Kennedy said: “It is a real honour that President Obama chose to savor a pint of Guinness as part of his journey back to Irish roots.

“This truly marks an occasion that will be remembered by people all over the world for generations to come.”

Added the Irish representative of a global alcoholic beverages company headquartered in London.

Guinness Cash In On Obama’s Moneygall Visit (Irish Central)

Meanwhile, in other queasy news:

Diageo looking to cut 70 jobs in Ireland (Irish Times)

(Photocall Ireland)