“The promise of youth

The multinational beer and liquor giants have designated the developing countries as their new growth sector for alcohol, since consumption in Western countries appears to be stagnating. And the large youth populations of developing societies will naturally be target group no 1. A new booklet from FORUT – “The promise of youth” – provides some snapshots of this development with examples from India, Sri Lanka and Malawi.

The drinks industry calls the developing countries “emerging markets” and considers them promising: Low alcohol consumption as a point of departure, economic growth and a growing middle class with increasing spending power. These are countries with a high proportion of children and youth in the population. First among them are the large economies with strong economic growth

The industry is adapting its strategy accordingly. It is aiming at young people and is trying to promote its products with modern, Western, future-oriented, high-technology associations. In their marketing campaigns they use images and messages that would never be used nor accepted in the companies’ countries of origin. And if a developing country has a ban on alcohol advertising, the companies are very clever at finding ways to promote their products by other ways and means.

This hunt for new consumers among the youth population in developing countries is the focus of the booklet “The Promise of Youth”, published by FORUT – Campaign for Development and Solidarity. The author and photographer is the Norwegian journalist Ingvar Midthun.

The booklet provides examples of the drinks industry’s marketing strategies and of the so-called “surrogate advertising”. One of the examples is Kingfisher in India. In 2004 Kingfisher Airlines was presented to the Indian public with a massive advertising campaign. Not a very remarkable event in itself, except that every Indian knew that the Kingfisher brand is a beer brand. Imagine Carlsberg Airlines. What would that have made you think of, apart from air travel?

Ingvar Midthun: The Norwegian journalist Ingvar Midthun has written the booklet «the Promise of Youth»

Malawi is another example in the booklet. Here, in one of the poorest countries of the world, the local Carlsberg beer company has had a remarkable advertising campaign on TV. The public was asked to participate in the” Win your private jet trip”-competition. By sending the cork inlay from the beer-caps consumers could take part in a draw to win a free flight around the world for seven days with seven friends. In other words: The more beer, the more lottery tickets you get – and your chances to win will increase. The contrast with life in rural areas and the daily struggle for survival could hardly be more striking.

The author has also met ordinary people who are affected by the increasing alcohol consumption in their countries and those who oppose this development.

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