NEWS9 July 2009

MPs rap Diageo marketing boss over research into pub culture

Government UK

UK— Diageo’s chief marketing officer Andy Fennell faced a grilling from MPs today over research his company had commissioned into male pub drinking.

MPs at a Health Committee hearing on alcohol misuse took Fennell to task over extracts from the report that discussed the needs of “pub man” and portrayed his “evolution” from what was described as “an erect apeman with a pint in his hand” through to an “Alpha male” lying “flat on his back”.

Committee member Stephen Hesford MP attempted to link this research to a breach of the alcohol code of practice, which forbids the promotion of intoxication. “This suggests drunkeness to me,” he said. “Is that right?”

Fennell replied: “Yes, that is why it is absolutely useless for maketing alcohol.” He acknowledged that if this information had been used to produce customer communication, it would represent a breach of the code.

However, he told, MPs: “This is consumer research. It led to no actionable insight. On the request of the committee, we sent everything in our files. This is unfiltered research… It does reflect what some consumer behaviour is like and that has to change.

“The company who did this research would have gone to talk to men about their drinking behaviour and they would, I hope, have come back with some insight that was actionable.”

Diageo brands include Smirnoff, Guiness, Baileys and Johnnie Walker. Other companies appearing before the committee today were Molson Coors, Beverage Brands, and Halewood International, as well as a host of advertising and communications agencies.