The symbolism of alcohol and drinking
In the Northern and Baltic countries alcohol is considered one of the most obvious articles of food and stimulant in our culture and it is inseparably linked with discussions about public health, social damages and costs.
When ever we communicate on alcohol and drinking we find our selves in a main distributing frame between facts of harm from the public health community mostly based on findings from the scientific and medical research and a more humanistic, social scientific approach on peoples own needs, habits and experiences, often with strong touch of historical myths and symbols clinging to it.
When it comes to the alcohol industries marketing of alcohol products it is understood that the advertising language seldom touches the facts of harm and danger but is based on reinforcement of the positive cultural symbols.
Advertising is first of all used to strengthen the popular preconceived ideas about alcohol consumption. These ideas have not been forced on potential consumers, they are instead enshrined in our cultural background and admen only have to use affirmation and intensification of pre-exiting, conscious and unconscious images. Alcohol consumption is still very often associated by advertisers with personal, sexual and social success in an often very basic and easy seductive language.
To support the public health and social wellbeing of the population one need to have a clear understanding of the ingredients of both sets of “communications” on alcohol and given all the facts of the negative consequences especially give attention to the positive image of alcohol and drinking enshrined in the minds of people most; ordinary citizens and not least the decision makers, with practical experience of alcohol in everyday life.