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”The world’s smartest way to sell alcohol”

>> Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Usually, this is a story that would only appear in the Swedish edition of the BKWine Brief but this is so outrageous so we have to share it with everyone. In a recent issue of one of the biggest daily paper the Swedish monopoly retailer of wine and spirits, Systembolaget, run a two page ad. No, it was not to sell some good wines. It was to proclaim that they are the world’s best retailer and that the Swedish people should be happy that they have a monopoly market. Because otherwise we would all be alcoholics. So this is a monopoly (Systembolaget, a state owned company) that spends about 2.5 million euro each year, according to their previous CEO, on “marketing”. And marketing in their view is to tell people

a) Systembolaget is the world’s best retailer,

b) Sweden has one of the world’s best selections of wines and spirits (a bit short of 2000 items;. Berry Brothers, alone, in London has some 4000 items. Can you follow the logic? No, we neither. Some years ago they hired Jancis Robinson to do a study of their range. No, I don't know what Jancis' conclusion was. The report is secret and classified information and the monopoly has declined to share it with us),

c) without the monopoly all Swedes would drown in misery, we would have 1,600 more deaths each year, 14,000 more wife beatings and 16 million more sick leave days.

We’re not joking. This is exactly what they say in the ad. That’s based on what they call a “scientific research report”. That report is the creation of a dozen or so alcohol and drug researchers, led by Harold Holder of Berkley, California, who sat down around a table and started guessing: “So how much do we think that alcohol consumption will increase if they start selling it in grocery stores. Oh, I’d say perhaps 30% more or so… What do you think?” Scientific report, yes indeed. They also claim that John D Rockefeller sponsored a major study to see what model for alcohol sales was best and that it concluded that “the Swedish model” was the best. That when prohibition was over many US states introduced alcohol monopolies and most of those are still in existence (that’s very typical for the deceitful facts they use: “many states” introduced monopolies and “most of those” still exist). Some years ago there was a study that considered that it was a peril to democracy when government agencies (or government controlled companies such as the Systembolaget monopoly) took on the role of propagandists. It is the role of the people to decide the polices and for the state to execute them. Not the other way around. The Systembolaget ignores it of course. In Sweden the Systembolaget alcohol monopoly spends 2.5 million euros a year on forming public opinion. No wonder people think they’re great.

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