In what could be described as a case of putting Dracula in charge of the blood bank, annual sobriety charity, Dry July, has partnered with the Woolworths-owned liquor chain, BWS to help promote the event.
BWS plans to rebrand from “beer, wine and spirits” to “because we’re sober” for the month of July.
And the odd union has already been attacked by health groups as an “empty manipulative gesture” and a “shocking and ill-conceived sobriety stunt”.
Dry July is a non-profit organisation that calls on participants to forgo alcohol for the month of July while raising money for cancer charities.
CEO of Dry July, Brett Macdonald, hailed the partnership with BWS as “helping increase awareness of what we do, and raise even more important funds for cancer patients and their families and carers.”
However, the Foundation for Alcohol Research Education has called on Dry July to immediately terminate the partnership and “repel” the influence of the alcohol industry.
Its CEO, Michael Thord, said: “Unless every BWS outlet shuts up shop for the month, this stunt will do nothing to reduce alcohol harm.
“This is a cynical marketing exercise by BWS designed to push the Woolworths’ alcohol brand and normalise alcohol.
“Alcohol is a class one carcinogen. The alcohol in one bottle of wine has the equivalent cancer risk of smoking five cigarettes for men and 10 cigarettes for women.
“It is inappropriate to have one group that sells cancer-causing alcoholic beverages 365 days a year partnering with the other group that fundraises to support the victims of alcohol harm.
“To be raising money to help people suffering cancer in a way that causes more cancer cases in the future is completely futile,” Thorn said.
And it appears the issue has now gone global.
Professor Carol Emslie from Glasgow Caledonian University in the UK also lashed out at Dry July’s association with BWS.
Emslie started the prominent Don’t Pink My Drink campaign in protest of alcohol brands using cancer awareness to sell more booze despite being part of the problem.
“This partnership seems particularly bizarre. For years, the alcohol industry has promoted breast cancer awareness activities while selling products that are known to be carcinogenic in an attempt to extend their marketing reach to young women,” Professor Emslie said.
“This partnership seems to be a similarly cynical attempt to extend marketing reach by associating a large alcohol retailer with a well-known charitable cause.”
Commenting on the partnership with Dry July, BWS’ CEO, Guy Brent, added: “At BWS we like to do things differently.
“With over 8000 team members who are all passionate about the communities they serve, Dry July is about us coming together to raise funds for a very worthy cause.”
“There are 1340 BWS stores across Australia and more than 8000 team members. By encouraging our staff and customers to participate in Dry July and donate to the Foundation, we are hoping increasing funding to the charity, which raised more than $7.7 million last year.
“BWS believes in giving consumers choice, which is why in recent years it has increased its range of low and no alcohol drinks for those reducing their alcohol intake, taking part in Dry July, or choosing to abstain entirely.”