The Institute of British Geographer's Conference: Commercials for drink are small beer

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The Independent Online
THE IDEA that Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach, or that the French really do adore Le Piat d'Or, cuts little ice with the people at whom alcohol advertising is aimed.

According to Tim Unwin, of the Royal Holloway University of London, the images which people associate with different types of drink are less flattering than advertising agencies like to believe.

Dr Unwin told the conference that while wine was associated with meals, sophistication and women, the image of beer owed more to darts players than to bluesmen or dextrous squirrels.

Research suggests beer is more commonly associated with smoky pubs, men and obesity, he said. Spirits fare little better, with park bench alcoholism a more likely image than Scottish glens.

Dr Unwin said that from his research on 188 people, 62 per cent of respondents were unable to recall a single wine advertisement and 57 per cent could not recall one for spirits.

Of wine advertisements, only Le Piat d'Or won any recognition, with 45 mentions out of a possible 564 - bad news for International Distillers and Vintners, whose promotion accounts for nearly 25 per cent of the total UK television and press advertising spend for wine.

Dr Unwin said that press advertising, particularly of wine, seemed to have a negligible impact on consumers. Given the findings, it could be asked whether condemnation of alcohol advertising was warranted.

Global warming could bring a boom for Britain's vineyards, according to Dr Gavin Kenny and Paula Harrison, of Oxford University.

Warmer summers could add varieties like pinot noir, chardonnay and riesling, with cultivation widespread in the South and the Midlands within 50 years.