Dear humans in charge at CUB (Carlton United Breweries),
I wanted to send you an open letter in the spirit of honesty and our mutual love for Australia. Because you’ve been on my mind a lot the last few days.
So, watching the 2018 NRL Origin I saw your new Victoria Bitter commercial which is all about ‘celebrating our modern Australian workforce.’
You know, the ad where you say:
”These days, there’s no one time that people knock off. 4.00pm might still be the end of the day for some, but for others, it might be the beginning of their day.”
This is true.
Anyhow, the thing is, well, it worried me a lot.
I don’t know how to say this delicately – but, see, Australia has a drinking problem. A really big one. And I fear this campaign is not going to help that a great deal.
Our passion for a cold-one in this fair nation costs around 36 billion (to health) per year along with a massive human toll. The Australian Education and Rehabilitation Foundation have stats that tell us more than SEVENTY percent of the population is ”negatively affected” by someone else’s drinking per year.
70,000 Aussies are the target of alcohol-related assault each year. 24,000 of those are connected to domestic violence. Yadda yadda yadda. I could go on for days. I could tell you that for each meth-related-death in Australia, there are about 60 alcohol-related deaths. Scary stuff like that.
Then there is the whopping cancer-alcohol connection as per recent fresh studies thanks to Latrobe University.
Anyhow the thing is: your commercials are really bloody excellent. They are emotive, beautifully shot, and feature a range of Aussies we can all totally relate to.
But I want to ask if you are honestly (cross-your-heart honestly, I mean) aware of how scary it is to see a national grog-icon pushing and supporting the cracking of a cold one in the morning if your knock-off happens to be sunrise?
I wonder if you are aware of the rising, horrible, marriage and health-wrecking statistics that surround our nation’s shift workers (These are, after all, the people I presume you’re targeting?)
The rates of alcoholism, depression, sleep-disorders, and the good old ever-present truth of the ‘divorce-shift’ that occurs in our mining sector, for example, are really not too flash at all. Have you heard of that?
I am sure you’re all good people. I swear my intent here is to merely appeal to you to seriously consider what the truth is across Australia and our obsession with booze. Because I really feel like your shareholders should know the scary reality beyond pretty cinematography and profit for a few individuals versus the tremendous cost to a nation of taxpayers.
My guess is you’re reading this and thinking ‘who is this human anyhow?
Well, I think that I am an extremely ordinary typical every-day Aussie. Part of the diverse nation you celebrate.
I’m also someone who almost died four years ago, because my love for beer kind of went next-level. Twenty years ago I was a typical healthy, happy, outdoors-y bronzed Aussie girl with the world at her feet … but it sure didn’t end so prettily.
See, despite a great start to life, things got really tough for me along the way – and honestly, I found it WAY too easy to turn to beer to solve some of those pressures, traumas, hard times, and fears.
Because at knock-off time, wherever I went, beer was shoved at me. It was just so GREAT and definitely sooo much easier to get lost in a fog of frothy goodness than have to face the things I wasn’t facing.
So it was that I became a dedicated country-party-girl who loved her nation and loved a cold one at the end of the day. I water-skied, rode horses, traveled, worked as a tour-guide, worked in an agricultural career, and had some incredible experiences during my twenties and thirties.
But present through all of it was the aforementioned passionate love for beer. I was a walking, talking example of your target-market. And I LOVED that I could justify my love for beer in this nation of ours that measures a person by how many schooners they can put away at knock-off time.
Anyhow, despite being a ridiculously hard working, tax-paying part of the Aussie workforce my whole life – I became a high-functioning alcoholic.
And one day, after a couple of decades, that took me to the edge of hell itself.
By my late thirties, despite being active, successful, and married to the best bloke in Australia: I actually wanted to die, because I was pretty sure being dead would be preferable to the insanity of alcohol-addiction in a nation that literally and metaphorically shoves booze down your neck at every turn.
See, as I got more and more trapped in the ”casual alcoholism” mentality of ‘Straya, I wasn’t even worried. Because I thought alcoholics were homeless blokes at Kings Cross, and people who drank every day or during the day. Certainly NOT people like me, who worked hard, dressed well, drank only at knock-off time, and had good educations and home loans and successful businesses? Surely not.
However thanks to that awkward moment when I fell down a flight of stairs during a blackout and nearly died (among being suicidal and all that jazz) I finally got the wake-up call I needed.
And four years of 100% sober living later, having since studied and graduated as a health coach and speaker and someone who’s passionately donated four years of life and finances and energy to raising awareness about the deadly disease of ‘casual alcoholism’ in Australia (especially in my beloved rural Australia) I want to ask you something…
… I want to ask if you really reckon it’s a good thing to be making out that cracking a long-neck at 7:00 am is okay?
I’d love to be very clear that I am not here to demonise drink or to have a crack at those who enjoy a beer responsibly.
But let’s face it – that ship sailed long ago for the average Aussie who you’re aiming your marketing at, don’t you think?
Truly, I just want you to stop and consider what you’re pushing, despite your responsible-drinking clauses.
You say on your website that your parent company, AB InBev, will invest at least US $1 billion globally (by 2025) towards campaigns and programs that reduce the harmful use of alcohol.
Well, I was wondering if you’d consider collaborating with some boots-on-the-ground with a person like me who can give you some serious insight into the uglier truths of our booze culture, especially out here in rural and remote Australia.
We are in pretty serious trouble, and our access to support and services is well-known for its inadequacies (geographical isolation among other challenges.)
I am part of the nation who would love, very much, to help do what needs to be done so much better. And that is better education, discussions, and the prevention of alcohol-related death, cancer, sickness, domestic violence, and all the other stuff that comes with this complex topic.
As it turns out, someone like me who’s lived through, survived, and gone on to health after alcohol addiction and who’s willing to speak candidly, openly, and isn’t hiding out is kinda’ hard to come by, and also has some pretty excellent insight.. as I’ve discovered.
Would you consider hearing my story, and helping me help the average Aussie to reassess their love of booze? To put some healthier parameters in place?
I hope so. Figured there was no harm in asking.
Thanks for listening 🙂