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Prague - Unemployment is rising and some economic sectors are collapsing. Many people are worried about the future and the prognosis is pessimistic.
How about stopping to worry? There is a cure for the omnipresent crisis offered by the liquor producer Stock Plzeň-Božkov.
"Božkov comes with a solution for the crisis," bold headline of the new newspaper advertisement claims. There is a picture of a bottle under the headline. Božkov Tuzemský invites for the delights of the popular golden liquid.
"World crisis affects everything, even people having fun. Producer of the famous and exceptionally high-quality Božkov liquors comes with a campaign that helps forgetting the bad mood," the advertisement text reads. The company promises to support entertaining projects of all kinds. The only condition being love for Božkov.
Head of Stocks says it is only hyperbole
The ad is accompanied by graphs showing that Božkov brand is going to plummet. Wishful thinking? "It is, of course an advertising hyperbole, reaction to the media being flooded with negative news," said Martin Petrášek, Stock Plzeň-Božkov CEO.
Karel Nešpor, chief physician of the addictions treatment at the psychiatric clinic n Prague Bohnice who has been helping alcoholics for dozens of years, was not entertained by it. On the contrary, he has been outraged by the Božkov crisis solution.
"The price for forgetting the problems with the help of alcohol is incommensurately high! Anxiety and depression get multiplied in a hangover. We already have the reputation of European drunks," Karel Nešpor said. He considers advertisement for alcohol ruthless, aggressive and harmful.
He noted that alcohol producers are attacking younger and younger people and they take advantage of supporting parties and entertainment, something young people look for. According to him, the producers are worried that lower spending force of the people might show in lower alcohol consumption and their lower revenues. That is why they come up with new advertisement campaigns.
Chief physician of the alcoholic rehabilitation centre offers a different solution:
"I would have a different solution for the crisis. If I were in the cabinet, I'd immediately and drastically raise the alcohol tax. State coffer would be filled fast and it would also help citizens' health situation," Nešpor said.
Nešpor hopes that the caretaker government might be more open to alcohol tax rise than the outgoing Finance Minister Miroslav Kalousek was. Kalousek was against it.
Petrášek, Stock CEO, explained that there is an ethical code for alcohol advertisement according to which it is forbidden to offer alcoholic drinks as help in cases of psychological and other troubles. "That is not what we are doing. We only want to support our brands. We want to tell people that we guarantee quality even in the difficult times," Petrášek said.
Mílan Knepr, head of one of the biggest Czech advertisement agencies, perceives the Stock campaign in a similar way. "I would not read it as an invitation to alcoholism. It is a legal commodity. The producer reacts to the current situation and shows that he is there for the people even in the bad times," Mark/Bbdo agency managing director said.
Epidemics of alcohol abuse have been historically proven. During the great economic crisis in the United States of the 1930s, growing alcoholism resulted in 13-years-long prohibition, which, in return, encouraged black market trading. Politicians tackled alcoholism in times of Austro-Hungary, as well as, during communism.
Karel Nešpor said it has not been proven that people drink more when they feel stressed. "Nobody knows that. On one hand, they feel stressed and on the other, they are trying to reduce unnecessary costs. "The lowest alcohol consumption was registered during the Second World War when people lived in extreme stress," he said. The truth is, though, that back then, there was an extreme lack of everything.
Alcohol, however, seems to thrive in some aspects during the crisis. British paper Daily Telegraph, for example, recently reported that Facebook and Google will start publishing alcohol advertisements due to the crisis, in order to secure new source of income.
Alcohol advertisement also re-appeared after years in prime time on some US TV channels. This is a common thing in the Czech Republic. "Czech politicians are friends with advertisement agencies and so they do not restrict them," Nešpor said. He is critical of no restricting the alcohol advertisement broadcast to after 10pm.
According to the Czech statistical office, alcohol consumption in the Czech Republic has been continuously growing in the past seven years. The Czechs are among the biggest drinkers in Europe.
Adapted by Prague Daily Monitor.