herald

Monday 23 October 2017

Why do we expect booze companies to resist selling booze? That's just daft

So Guinness has spiked Arthur's Day.

Well, that's not how they're describing it. They are saying that they've decided to refocus their efforts on something called 'Amplify'.

I have no idea what that is either, but undoubtedly Diageo will shovel vast quantities of cash at an advertising campaign in the coming weeks to explain it to us.

The reason Guinness have spiked Arthur's Day (sorry, re-focused their marketing activities) is simple.

It's because the number of people puking stout on the street had caused a lot of media-types to publicly question the appropriateness of a UK multinational promoting drinking at 6pm on a weekday.

Eventually the lads in London, or in their subsidiary here, decided to knock it on the head in favour of something a bit less embarrassing.

And more power to them. It's their job to sell booze. They exist to sell booze. Their sole purpose in corporate life is to make money selling booze.

We should not moralise about them doing that.

But neither should we believe that any of what they do is altruism or charity (as a publicly limited company they are legally required to act in the best interest of their shareholders, and altruism runs counter to that requirement.)

The problem is that the bumph now talked about 'Corporate Social Responsibility' by modern companies blinds us to reality. An entity which aims to give back to the community is called a 'charity'. Not a PLC.

Yet we've allowed ourselves to be confused into believing that the corporations can be cuddly.

This confusion makes us lose sight of what the State should be doing.

We mistakenly think that Diageo might just be a good bunch of lads who like Irish music and who have ethics that will guide their marketing spend.

That's daft. That's not their job. Their job is booze-selling. The government's job is regulating how they do that.

The fact that Guinness has created enough noise with Arthur's Day that media attention has caused them to give up on it, shows they're doing their job almost too well, and the Government is not doing its at all.

Time to move home Bren?

The video for Ryan Sheridan's song Home (which features in Mrs' Brown's Boys d'Movie) shows a number of overseas Irish stars holding up handwritten signs saying what they miss most about Ireland.

Brendan O'Carroll is one of the stars featured. The sign he's holding says 'I miss my Dublin.' Easy way to fix that Brendan - stop living in Florida and come home.

Time to act on gay marriage

The Jimmy Savile and Rolf Harris cases teach an interesting lesson about cultural norms. 
In both instances, sexual assaults were ignored or forgiven because society at the time would not have taken them seriously.

In the Leeds infirmary report into Savile's actions, several of the victims tell stories of attempting to tell people in authority and being told either 'that's just Jimmy' or that no-one would believe them.

It's easy to look back now and scoff that such attitudes could ever pertain.

What's more difficult is to assess our current society and recognise the things that in decades to come we will feel nationally shamed by.

Top of that list must be that we still make people second class citizens based on the gender of the person that they love.

There's one set of rights if you love a person of the opposite gender and a lesser set if they are the same.

Thankfully we'll all get a chance to fix that in the upcoming referendum on gay marriage.

Or 'marriage' as it will someday hopefully be known.

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