Boonie doll may have glorified binge drinking: Foster’s

Posted by Isobel Drake on 30th October 2009

An executive at brewer Foster’s has conceded that the decision to introduce the ‘Boonie Doll’ promotion may have been an error despite it resonating with many of their VB customers.

The promotion involved a David Boon figurine, which would send messages – such as ‘when are we going to the pub?’ – based on prompting from the Channel Nine commentary team.

Boon, an accomplished cricketer who is well known for reportedly drinking 52 cans of beer during a flight to London, had previously been involved with campaigns for Foster’s when playing for Australia. However, this particular campaign incurred the wrath of health groups due to a perceived encouragement of binge drinking.

Chris Maxwell, National Sponsorship Manager at Foster’s Group, indicated that the company did not expect the extent of coverage that the doll received.

“We thought that David Boon had a perfect fit with VB. He was a good Aussie bloke, with good Aussie values. However, we have had a lot of criticism around using him in regards to this binge-drinking issue,” Mr Maxwell said at a Sponsorship Australasia conference in Sydney yesterday, according to The Age.

“Looking back, we have decided that was the wrong thing to do. We didn’t have the foresight to see that this issue was going to be so significant. And in glorifying that behaviour we have added to the issue of the normalisation of binge-drinking in Australia.”

Mr Maxwell suggested that the company had enhanced their responsible drinking message since then and would not carry out such a campaign these days.

”The difference is now we realise we have a responsibility to the community to promote our products in a responsible way,” he advised. “Therefore, we think a lot more deeply about how we use ambassadors, how we use our messages, and the potential impact down the track.”