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Tuesday 12 February 2013

The Return of the Professor of Prohibition and his AARB

Can you spot what is horribly wrong with the below children's jacket?  Take a moment. Go on. It'll be fun.

Click image to enlargify
Did you see what is so shockingly wrong?


Want a clue?  Look closely the clothing tag and the zipper.  Then read this this "shocking" article published by none other than Australia's favourite prohibition propaganda rag, the Sydney Morning Herald:
Jim Beam-branded clothing is being sold to children as young as four, in what public health experts have said is one of the most shocking examples of alcohol advertising they have seen.
OK, let's just analyse that once sentence and ask ourselves these questions:
  • Are there any four-year-olds in the world who buy their own jackets?
  • Do four-year-olds read clothing tags?   (Do adults, for that matter?)
  • Are clothing tags and zippers now considered advertising?
  • Would any four-year-old make a connection with alcohol and a clothing tag?
  • How many four-year-olds are considering drinking Jim Beam because of a clothing tag on a jacket?
  • How many four-year-olds drink whiskey or even want to?
  • What kind of dickhead would make an issue out of a clothing tag and boldly claim it's alcohol advertising targeting children?
The answer to that last question is Australia's very own Professor of Prohibition, Mike Daube. He is exactly the kind of dickhead who would claim a clothing tag and zipper is a shocking example of alcohol advertising. Let us have a look at his own words from his newest organisation's press release:
“This is the most shocking alcohol promotion I have seen. It would be hard to think of anything more cynical than children’s clothing advertising alcohol. This promotion turns children into mobile billboards for whisky, and encourages them to associate themselves with the Jim Beam brand.”
Oh, I can think of plenty of cynical promotions that use children, Daube.  Pretty much everything you have ever done in fact.  Why is it that you and others like you are allowed to use children to promote your beliefs? That is of course a direct violation of Jay's Law
Any person, group, organisation or government that uses children to promote and disseminate propaganda designed to encourage societal and/or legislative change for any agenda or cause, regardless of claimed benefits or their intent, shall be considered execrable, evil and tyrannical.
That is exactly what you do, Daube. You use kids to help promote your prohibitionist agenda with your McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth:
Young people

Do you want to help reduce harms from alcohol among other young people?

We’re looking for young people to help us raise awareness of harmful drinking and call for action to prevent harm from alcohol.
Of course the real issue here is whether alcohol companies should be allowed to advertise at all.  Indeed, having successfully banned all tobacco promotions and sponsorship, prohibitionists like Daube are earnestly seeking to do the same thing with alcohol. That domino effect or slippery slope that the anti-smokers ceaselessly claim doesn't exist because tobacco is a unique product ...?  Of course it exists! Alcohol and junk food are next on the hit list for the nannying tyrants. In the case of motor sport racing, tobacco companies can no longer sponsor racing teams. So alcohol companies, like Jim Beam, have stepped in to fill in the void, because for the moment, they can:

More importantly, alcohol companies can still advertise on radio, TV, and billboards. That is way too much freedom for the purveyors of the demon drink because children might see them. So something must be done to protect the children.  And that something is Mike Daube's laughable and pathetic Alcohol Advertising Review Board (AARB), whose stated mission is:
Our Mission:

To administer an independent alcohol advertising complaint review service to help protect the community from inappropriate alcohol advertising and encourage effective regulation of alcohol advertising.
Firstly, there is nothing independent about the AARB.  It was set up and staffed with members of Daube's McCusker Centre for Action on Alcohol and Youth organisation (MCAAY), including the Chair of the AARB, Professor Fiona Stanley, who appears on the advisory board for MCAAY. The AARB web site was registered by MCAAY's Information and Research Officer, Hannah Pierce. This is nothing but a front organisation for MCAAY as another means of lobbying government. (Can we call this a sockpuppet org? I dunno.)

Secondly, the AARB is grossly misleading. It's not a government organisation and it has no power over advertisers. Daube et al set up the AARB to compete with the Australia Association of National Advertisers (AANA), because they are more or less self-regulated and Daube doesn't like that.  The AANA is not best pleased with Daube's efforts, that's for certain:
Australian Association of National Advertisers (AANA) today called for the disbandment of the Alcohol Advertising Review Board (AARB), which continues to mislead the public as to its purpose.
“There are already a number of regulatory protections in place in terms of messaging and placement of alcohol advertising. It is an effective system, underpinned by a transparent and robust complaints handling system that delivers responses to consumer complainants within 30 days,” said AANA Director of Codes, Policy and Regulatory Affairs, Alina Bain.

“The AARB purported to provide an alternative complaints mechanism but has failed to deliver a consumer benefit. Professor Mike Daube’s own comments that AARB is “working to their own timelines” confirms that it was not designed to act as a genuine complaints handling system for the consumer,” said Ms Bain.

“The AARB system has set itself up as legislator, plaintiff, judge and jury. It has developed its own codes and is adjudicating complaints from within its own ranks. It flies in the face of established self-regulatory principles, which include independence of code making and adjudication. What’s more it has misled the public as to its purpose,” said Ms Bain.
Indeed, even I was misled for about three minutes (until I researched it), thinking that Daube's AARB was a legit government-sanctioned operation with powers to regulate advertisers. In truth, the AARB is nothing more than a paper tiger organisation, staffed with prohibitionists. It has absolutely no power and relies on its hyper-sensationalised press releases sent to the media to give it the appearance of legitimacy and to deceive the public.

You might be wondering if the AARB is having any success in "regulating" alcohol advertising (apart from easily duping the Health Editors in the media, particularly and in this instance Amy Corderoy of the Sydney Morning Herald -- see end of this post for a bonus article written by Amy today).  Well, no, it isn't.  Let us all have a hearty laugh at the AARB's pathetic and sad quarterly report (PDF 372kb), which indicates very clearly that alcohol advertisers are simply ignoring Daube, as well they should:

"No Advertiser chose to participate in the AARB process"

Do take the time to read some of the quarterly report.  It's hilarious and so very sad all the way through. "Ermagerd! Children might see these things and die!" But what about that shocking Jim Beam advertising on the kiddies' clothing -- what happened with that?  Let's have a look (emphasis added on the really important bit at the end):

Alcohol and motor racing
The AARB received a complaint regarding Jim Beam Racing Kids Team clothing, available to purchase from the V8 Supercars Official Online Store.

Advertisement: At the time of the complaint, five items were available to purchase from the Jim Beam Racing Kids Team clothing line: three different children’s t-shirts, a children’s jacket and a children’s cap. The children’s clothing featured Jim Beam colours and branding, with the words “Jim Beam” replaced by “The Team”.

Complaint: The complainant believed it was highly inappropriate for children to be wearing alcohol company-branded clothing. They noted that while the words “Jim Beam” had been replaced with “The Team”, the clothing still featured the recognisable Jim Beam branding, through colours, typography and patterns. The complainant believed the clothing was directed at children and young people, associated Jim Beam with youth and believed children would be highly exposed to the Jim Beam branding (ref 91/12).

Determination: Upheld in part.

Contravened section (3)(c) of the Content Code, on the basis that Jim Beam used its recognisable branding (design, style and colours) but displayed it in a slightly disguised form on the ‘Kid’s Team’ merchandise.

Contravened sections (4)(a)(i)(1) and (4)(a)(i)(2) of the Content Code and section (1)(i) of the Placement Code, on the basis that the merchandise directly targeted young people, associated Jim Beam with youth, and the placement of the alcohol advertisement on children’s clothing meant children would be exposed to it.

Action: The AARB requested the Jim Beam Racing Kids Team merchandise line be withdrawn immediately, and that the Advertiser, Beam Global, reconsider their sponsorship of V8 Supercars. As of 11 February 2013, the AARB had not been notified of any action by Beam Global in response to the determination.

Ooh... "reconsider their sponsorship of V8 Supercars" they "requested". So much for tobacco being a unique product. There is no doubt that Daube's intention is to remove all alcohol sponsorship from every sport, to protect children from being targeted by evil promotions and advertising. It worked against tobacco companies, so no reason in Daube's mind that it wouldn't work against alcohol companies. So far, the makers of Jim Beam have ignored Daube and his minions of prohibition. And may Beam Global long continue to do so. One can only hope that alcohol companies have learnt a lesson from what has happened to tobacco companies, who tried to appease the public health inquisitors and got severely burnt by it.

How parents dress their children is their business. It's not the business of government, and it's definitely not the business of nannying tyrants like Daube the Dickhead and his various prohibitionist organisations. There is no way a four-year-old will be harmed by a clothing tag. So dress your kids however you like and tell the nannies to go to hell. 

Bonus article by Amy Corderoy for your reading displeasure, "Profits before health, say experts":
ALCOHOL and processed food companies are employing the same tactics as Big Tobacco to increase their profits at the expense of people's lives, health experts say.

You don't say! No slippery slope there, then...