Beating the binge

Related tags Portman group Alcoholism Drink

The Portman Group is aiming to tackle the growing problem of binge-drinking with a fresh burst of trade-focused activity. Nicola Collenette...

The Portman Group is aiming to tackle the growing problem of binge-drinking with a fresh burst of trade-focused activity. Nicola Collenette reports.

Every week there seems to be a new report about young people and their excessive drinking habits. Binge-drinking, if all the surveys and statistics are to be believed, is very much on the rise - particularly among younger women.

But what is being done about this worrying trend?

According to drink's industry watchdog The Portman Group, a mixture of changes to the drinking environment and stricter enforcement of existing laws, together with a long-term public education campaign is needed.

Together, it says, these will eventually work to change attitudes and behaviour. The group points out that a similar combination of law enforcement, environmental initiatives and education over a sustained period has changed attitudes to drink driving.

The Portman Group plans to give a fresh push to its national campaign, "If you do do drink, don't do drunk". It is being relaunched this year with a new range of trade-focused activities.

Up until now the campaign has been consumer focused, particularly on the student market. The group is now calling for more licensees to play a key role in protecting themselves, their staff and their communities from the minority who drink too much.

How the campaign works

The campaign aims to highlight the issue of excessive drinking, among 18 to 24-year-old consumers, and make them aware of the risks and harm that excessive drinking can do to themselves and others.

Having successfully launched the campaign in 2002, this year will see the development of a new range of initiatives designed to appeal directly to consumers, and crucially to get more pubs involved.

Issues such as alcohol-related crime and disorder are high on the public agenda, and getting involved in this high-profile campaign will show that licensees take these issues seriously.

Jim Minton, The Portman Group's director of campaigns and communications, said: "In 2003 we are providing materials that can be used to challenge drunkenness in pubs and bars. These are put together in the form of a resource pack for licensees.

"Using a combination of posters and postcards to flag up the risks young people run by excessive drinking, the campaign message is now also available on door and washroom mirror stickers.

"Two new posters have been designed to keep the campaign fresh and relevant, with more on the way."

Mr Minton said that pushing the message through the trade has three clear benefits:

  • customers who may not be aware of the risks of drinking too much are able to find out about them, in a way that is neither threatening nor patronising, at the same time as enjoying a drink with their friends.
  • responsible licensees can show to their customers, police and licensing officers, that they are actively taking steps to discourage drunkenness. They can send out a message that their pub is a great place to have a drink and have a good time, but that drinking to excess is not welcome.
  • by seeing these messages displayed, other customers will see that the pub or bar they are in is a safe and enjoyable place to drink.

Portman Group aims

  • to help licensees see that the campaign is part of a wider set of initiatives to deal with drunkenness, in which they can play a part
  • to give licensees sound business reasons why they should get on board with the campaign
  • to show licensees what they can do to tackle drunkenness in their own bar - again this is a mix of using campaign materials, and making changes to the way they operate their business for the benefit of the vast majority of well-behaved customers.

Trade initiatives for 2003

The next phase of the campaign is aimed at securing more support from the trade. This phase will involve:

  • the distribution through the trade press and various networks of a leaflet outlining the business case for the campaign
  • further tailored trade advertising pushing the business case and reminding licensees how to get signed up and order campaign packs
  • partnership work with Portman Group members and associate member companies who are distributing materials to the trade with their drinks deliveries
  • extensive work with police, local authorities, town centre management, and Pubwatch groups - from March to May 2003 The Portman Group will have addressed over 300 licensees in eight pubwatch meetings across southern England
  • the group will build on the partnerships it has with the British Institute of Innkeeping, the British Beer & Pub Association and other trade bodies to make the campaign relevant to their members.

New initiatives for 2003

In 2003, The Portman Group is planning to develop new materials for the trade to push the message across. This will include information and publicity which will help licensees and managers work with their staff to create the right atmosphere for responsible drinking in the bar. All of this will be backed up by increased consumer and media activity aimed at 18 to 24-year-olds.

The group says it will be using the same marketing techniques that consumer brands use to raise awareness among young consumers.

This will involve the development of campaign materials aimed to raise awareness of the sexual and safety implications of excessive drinking for young women, and the development of materials aimed at young men to raise awareness of the implications of excessive drinking and accidents and violence.

The drinks watchdog is also taking a new approach for 2003 by using sport as a key way of reaching its target audience. It has already announced that the campaign will be a sponsor of National Rugby League which it hopes will guarantee that the message will be promoted in advertisements in every premier Rugby League match programme. Also, the London Skolars Rugby League team are to carry the campaign message on their shirts for the 2003 season.

This year the group also intends to develop interactive marketing by using emails, the internet and mobiles. All of this will be backed by ongoing research with consumers and the trade, which will help show us where they need to develop the message and what new initiatives and materials it needs to create to back up the campaign.

  • Packs are available free to all licensees. Call Matthew Bradby on 020 7907 3707 or email​ for your own pack.

A recent poll on revealed that 81 per cent of licensees thought that irresponsible drinks promotions encouraged binge-drinking. And The Publican's Market Report 2002, a survey of 750 licensees, showed that 52 per cent of licensees felt violence on the streets had got worse over the last three years while 55 per cent of those running young persons venues felt that this was the case.

Related topics Other operators

Property of the week


£ 60,000 - Leasehold

Busy location on coastal main road Extensively renovated detached public house Five trade areas (100)  Sizeable refurbished 4-5 bedroom accommodation Newly created beer garden (125) Established and popular business...

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more