To read this content please select one of the options below:

How responsible are “responsible” drinking campaigns for preventing alcohol abuse?

Joyce M. Wolburg (Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA)

Journal of Consumer Marketing

ISSN: 0736-3761

Article publication date: 1 June 2005




The purpose of this article is to question the misplaced efforts to curb alcohol abuse through “responsible” drinking messages from the alcohol industry, asking how responsible this strategy really is.


This article cites published research that calls into question the effectiveness of “responsible” messages, particularly those that situate the problem of alcohol abuse within drunk driving and underage drinking without addressing heavy consumption. Examples of “responsible” messages are drawn from websites of three major beer companies.


Problems with “responsible” drinking are identified, including the fact that such messages place the problem within the user rather than the product. “Responsible” messages also give permission to drink heavily as long as underage and driving is not involved. “Responsible” drinking messages enable drinkers to shift responsibility to others, which gives carte blanche to binge drinking.

Practical implications

There is little doubt that “responsible” messages are effective public relations tools that enhance the image of beer companies, but serious doubts exist regarding their ability to prevent alcohol abuse.


Questioning the effectiveness of these messages puts pressure upon the industry to develop strategies that do a better job of addressing the realities of alcohol abuse.



Wolburg, J.M. (2005), "How responsible are “responsible” drinking campaigns for preventing alcohol abuse?", Journal of Consumer Marketing, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 176-177.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Related articles