Diageo has defended its responsible drinking TV campaign against claims the ads make binge-drinking look fun.
A three-year study conducted by Bath University concluded that ads showing the perils of drinking too much, meant as a cautionary tale, are in fact "catastrophically misconceived" because they assume that young people who get drunk are disapproved of by their peer group.
Diageo's responsible drinking campaign ran two TV ads this summer, "based on the insight that drinking too much can make an individual lose social currency". Such an approach was criticised by the Bath researchers for missing the mark.
"Extreme inebriation is often seen as a source of personal esteem and social affirmation among young people," said project leader Professor Christine Griffin.
Diageo hit back against the claims, citing its own research of 3,500 18 to 35-year-olds. "In developing 'The Choice is Yours' campaign we carried out extensive research across Europe to ensure we delivered a campaign that would resonate strongly with this age group. Bath University talked to 94 people," said a spokeswoman.
"Our research showed that young adults were more likely to consider drinking responsibly if they believed that by drinking excessively they would be in danger of losing social credibility -
precisely the message our campaigns convey."
The Drinkaware Trust, the body charged with changing attitudes to binge-drinking, has announced plans for a consumer campaign this week that involves a tie-up with homeless charity Crisis.
"We will be showing how two charities can work effectively together, combining key messages towards a common goal of educating young people on alcohol," said chief executive Jean Collingwood.