Storm over 'piss-take' liquor logo

Liquorland's new slogan "all the help you need" has been labelled "a piss-take" and "cynical" by addiction support agencies concerned at the company's choice of wording.

Recently Liquorland changed its slogan from "here's to you" to "all the help you need".

The new slogan has drawn intense criticism from a range of support agencies questioning Liquorland's intentions behind the slogan.

Liquorland chief executive Rob Gibson said the "help" in the slogan refers to its employees' commitment to service and knowledge of brands it stocks.

Its previous slogan "here's to you" felt very masculine and may have alienated some customers, he said. Liquorland dropped the old slogan and adopted "all the help you need" following guidance from its advertising agency.

Alcohol Drug Association of New Zealand chief executive Paul Rout said Liquorland's use of the word "help" in the new slogan was cynical considering one of the major contributing factors to alcohol-related problems in New Zealand is the easy of access to cheap liquor through off-licence retailers.

"They should stop using that word because I think it's a contradiction in terms of what they actually do," Rout said.

The slogan features the kind of wording typically used by support agencies trying to help problem drinkers and minimise the alcohol harm, he said.

"It's buying into a language and a concept that people warm to but in fact isn't genuine or real."

The liquor industry has long promoted alcohol as something which can "help" people, whether it be in relation to relaxing, being socially popular or having improved sexual prowess, he said.

"Of course, we never hear the downsides."

New Zealand Drug Foundation executive director Ross Bell said it was "a cynical slogan which suggests that booze is all the help you need".

"It's a bit of a piss-take I reckon," Bell said.

The slogan was an odd choice for a liquor retailer and it undermined the work of alcohol addiction support services, he said.

"It's almost saying, keep drinking. It's a very strange choice of phrase."

People with alcohol dependency find it challenging being exposed to advertising and messaging associated with alcohol, he said.

"Their slogan does send the message that alcohol is actually the answer to all of your problems.

"Liquorland needs to probably rethink their slogan in light of that."

Alcohol Action New Zealand medical spokesman Professor Doug Sellman said the slogan gave the impression Liquorland was attempting to solve a customer's problem.

"I suspect they are focusing on the lack of intoxication being the problem," Sellman said. "This sounds like alcoholism to me."

Alcohol marketing usually promoted alcohol consumption without any mention about its downside, he said.

"Marketing is very clever and it is maintaining the heavy drinking culture. That's what's really insidious about the promotion of alcohol."

Victoria University marketing professor Peter Thirkell said the slogan was an unusual choice and not a phrase people would immediately associate with a liquor outlet.

The saying "all the help you need" would usually be associated with a place that provides a helpful service, he said.

"If you need help for something you wouldn't think ‘I'll go to my local liquor store'," Thirkell said.

If Liquorland built a communication campaign explaining the slogan it would make the message more clear, he said. While the slogan was not outrageous, it would be contentious considering the concern around alcohol use in society, he said.

"I don't think it's shocking or a travesty."

Gibson said Liquorland appreciated the alcohol support agencies' point of view and Liquorland was committed to meeting and exceeding its responsibilities as a liquor retailer.

Sunday Star Times