Will warning labels change consumers boozy habits? 'I doubt it' says James Watt of Brewdog


By John McCarthy | Media editor

August 11, 2014 | 4 min read

James Watt, co-founder of BrewDog, responding to calls today by an all-party committee of MPs to include health warnings on alcohol packaging, said he'd implement the warnings but doubted it could change some consumer's "unhealthy relationship with alcohol".

Speaking to the Drum, Watt said: “Health warnings on labels are fine as far as we are concerned. We’ll give it a try. But it’s not going to help us achieve what we need to achieve; to redefine alcohol in the UK.

“Giant global alcohol brands have for years flooded living rooms with stack ‘em high, sell ‘em cheap soulless, sub-par ‘booze’ that regards taste and experience as just an underwhelming side-note to getting blind drunk."

Watt added that he was pessimistic that labels would change the way many consumers handle their alcohol: "Is getting the big breweries to stick a health warning on the side of their multimillion pound logos going to stop them actively marketing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol to their unfortunate customers? I doubt it. But a revolution in alcohol labeling could help to lift the veil of spin that still shrouds the industry and even catalyse a new age of consumer awareness.

“As a craft brewery, we have just four ingredients in our beer; malt, hops, yeast and water. Giant mass production breweries are allowed to boast the same without ever having to confirm it on the bottle - it would be interesting to see how many mainstream lager brands could if they were made to.”

Watt concluded: “Although we think health warnings won’t achieve what it’s hoped they will, we will happily embrace any wider desire for change in an industry that has for too long had its strings pulled by global mega corporations profiting through smoke and mirrors on their labels and advertising campaigns.”

Earlier today, Matthew Charlton, CEO of Brothers and Sisters, wrote for the Drum calling the labelling move "utterly pointless" adding that government resources would be better spent elsewhere.

Earlier this year Watt posted an ‘apology’ to the Portman Group alcohol advertising regulator after an ad was deemed to encourage anti-social behaviour and binge drinking - he said: “I would like to issue a formal apology to the Portman Group for not giving a shit about today’s ruling.


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