Heineken takes a strong lead on Most Dishonest Advert of 2016 with ‘Moderate Drinkers Wanted’

I haven’t done Worst Adverts of the Year for a while now, but I’m considering resurrecting it for 2016, given Heineken’s early lead in the coveted ‘Most Dishonest Advert’ category.

The ad shows a sequence of women on a night out, singing a montage of Bonnie Tyler’s Holding Out for a Hero, as they contemptuously ignore the drunk men stumbling and snoozing around them. It ends with a female bartender being impressed by a man who leaves the bar after having only one drink, which leads to the tagline, “Moderate Drinkers Wanted”:

The advert is so breathtakingly disingenuous, it takes a few seconds after seeing it to start to process what might be going on here. Obviously, they can’t be telling their customers, “we want you to buy less of our product.” They must know that, as studies prove, the majority of their revenues come from dangerous and harmful levels of binge-drinking.

Do they think that by pretending their beer is only for more discerning (and therefore attractive) moderate-drinking men, they’ll raise its status and men will stupidly drink more of it? No, I don’t think that’s Heineken’s tactic here.

To understand the advert, you have to realise that it’s not aimed at potential Heineken customers at all. It’s primarily aimed at regulators. It’s part of a big lobbying campaign, attempting to prove to governments that the alcohol industry is a responsible self-regulator, that it doesn’t want its customers to over-use its products and is taking steps to stop them.

The campaign, of course, is paid for with the profits Heineken makes as it fuels a public health catastrophe, the costs of which are socialised to the rest of us. And the reason the industry wants self-regulation is so they can avoid minimum unit pricing, and continue to sell 15p/unit cider to its biggest customers: alcoholics drinking themselves to death.

New Year’s resolutions 2016

Here are my resolutions for 2016:

1. Complete The Lords of Midnight.

Carried over from 2015. The ZX Spectrum is in fully working order, so it’s time for Doomdark to meet his fate.

2.  Play the board games I already own until their purchases become cost-effective.

I’m a board game geek. After a few years of collecting games, I’ve ended up with more than I’ve had time to play properly. My aim in 2016 is to rectify that by focusing more on playing the ones I already own.

I’m going to be systematic about it. I’ve created a spreadsheet of the games I own, and a log to track the times I play them. Using this to calculate a cost-per-play (purchase price / number of plays) for each game, my aim is to get all my currently-owned games down to £5/play or less by the end of the year.

3. Never pay the included service charge on a restaurant bill; always leave the tip, if appropriate, in cash.

It’s become apparent over the last year that restaurants, especially the big chains, are grossly exploitative of their staff, and the service charges they add to bills are one example. In many cases, it’s been restaurant policy to keep all or some of the charge, and distribute little or none of it to the actual serving staff. Even when they do give most back to the staff, there’ll usually be an admin fee deducted if it’s been paid by card. So rather than take the lazy option of just paying the charge on the bill and thinking, “well, that’s the tip covered”, I’m always going to ask for it to be taken off, and then leave a suitable tip in cash instead.

4. Make more eye contact.

I’ve realised that I’m pretty bad at making eye contact while talking to people. I’m fine when they’re talking, but as soon as I start talking, I almost always look away. It’s difficult to concentrate on both things at once – thinking about what I’m saying, and watching the other person’s face – so I unconsciously reduce the complication by looking away. But I guess it could be interpreted as rude or cold. So I’m going to make a definite effort to do better.