Watching back-to-back booze ads on SBS left me wondering if we'll look back at alcohol commercials in the same way we view cigarette advertising now. Surely it wont be around forever? Australian liquor television ads fall into two categories. Beer and rum commercials are generally humorous, like the epic Carlton Draught ads or the Bundy Men Like Us Drink Rum song, while whiskey and wine ads associate their product with sophistication. I guess in the public imagination, wine is a classier drink than beer, unless it's from a cask or it's bubbly and it's Melbourne Cup day.
But Australia has a terrible drinking culture and it can't be ok to portray alcohol as larrikin, or stylish, or an inevitable part of life. I don't want to bore you with statistics, but recently a World Health Organisation report on Australia's alcohol consumption said:
"Woh, seriously, how is drinking that much even possible? How are you drunkards still standing? Is this figure a mistake? What is wrong with you all? According to this data everyone should be dead. I mean, my God!"
I'm definitely not for prohibition, or anything like that. Last time that was tried it didn't work out too well. Unless, of course, you're into Chicago gangster films or were a Chicago gangster, in which case prohibition was an unequivocal success.
You can't outlaw vice, but to depict drinking as quirky or harmless is a lie and to present it as a reward for hard work, a key to style or an integral part of sport is a bit on the nose. Furthermore, for an endangered animal, the Bundy Rum polar bear seems remarkably happy. Maybe the decimation of his species is why he turned to rum.