Article title: Drink wisely Australians, but keep drinking: does the alcohol industry in Australia frame the discourse on alcohol to maintain hegemony?
DrinkWise Australia is an independent, not-for-profit organisation established in 2005 by the alcohol industry. According to the website, the organisation aims ‘to help bring about a healthier and safer drinking culture in Australia ’. DrinkWise claims that through its long-term generational change program, it can reduce alcohol-related harm by positively altering Australian drinking culture to be more responsible while also promoting the benefits of moderate alcohol consumption. However, numerous researchers have concluded that DrinkWise campaigns are designed to promote the alcohol industry rather than public health. This research advances understanding of how PR intersects with media relations theories of information subsidy, issue framing and agenda building by observing the constitutive effects of those theoretical applications in a real world situation. Authors conclude that DrinkWise agenda building has ultimately sought to influence policy debate and facilitate the interests of the alcohol industry.
Public health literature proposes that the Australian alcohol industry–funded organisation DrinkWise is a Social Aspects Public Relations Organisation (SAPRO) that favours industry over public interests by deploying ineffective alcohol harm reduction strategies. This research addresses a gap in the critical public relations literature by investigating these claims through an examination of DrinkWise’s source media content. Content and rhetorical framing analysis revealed how the organisation framed the alcohol issue, as well as identifying the messages and message audiences of their media releases. Results supported extant research suggesting that DrinkWise is insulating the alcohol industry against evidence-based public health harm reduction strategies, by engaging in agenda building through industry-friendly framing of the alcohol issue, and dissemination of information subsidies to elites and policy-makers. We discuss the conclusions through a lens of hegemony and develop an argument that DrinkWise media relations is a strategy to maintain a hegemonic individual responsibility ideology.
Drink wisely Australians, but keep drinking: does the alcohol industry in Australia frame the discourse on alcohol to maintain hegemony?
Rachel Joanne Pietracatella and Danielle Brady
Media International Australia
2016, Vol. 160(1) 53–66