There came a point when I realized

the alcohol-as-lifestyle messaging in media and marketing had taken on epic proportions. How can we be more human in the stories we tell around alcohol?

Back when I was an editor at a women’s lifestyle magazine, I didn’t think twice about posting a photo of a cocktail on social media or of me holding up an entire bottle of wine. Margaritas on the beach during research (I was a travel editor), champagne toasts at Christmas around the perfect family table — alcohol seemed like a normal part of life to me, and my social media feed reflected that. Although I kept it mostly in my personal feed and writing, my beliefs certainly influenced the way I told stories professionally, too.

“Everyone drinks, except alcoholics,” was a thought deeply ingrained in my psyche, adding a cheeky line to a story or a photo caption about “deserving wine.” I never thought twice about the message I might be sending, including the message I was sending to myself.

Then I became addicted, and everything changed.

As a woman who has worked in and around media and marketing for 20 years — and a woman who got sober while working in that high-pressure, high-stakes culture where clicks are king — my passion now has changed. Today, I guide conversations around how we talk about alcohol in women’s lifestyle media and marketing. How, I ask, can we be more human in the stories that we tell around alcohol? Smarter, more sensitive, more empathetic?

To be clear: I’m not a prohibitionist — everyone has a choice to drink or not drink. But there came a point when I realized the alcohol-as-lifestyle messaging in media and marketing had taken on epic proportions.

And who better to address it than someone who had lived on both sides of the story?

Even at the gym, we see the images that tell us: “Go ahead, you deserve a drink!” “Rose all day!” “Mommy needs her wine!” From T0shirts to greeting card, alcohol messaging is everywhere.

THE ILLUSION AND THE REALITY

It doesn’t take much work to find them: images that normalize, glorify and celebrate alcohol use. Scroll through your social media feed. Flip through a women’s magazine. Even at the gym, we see the images that tell us: “Go ahead, you deserve a drink!” “Rosé all day!” “Mommy needs her wine!” From T-shirts to greeting cards, alcohol messaging is everywhere.

At the same time, our country struggles with an addiction epidemic, with drinking an often overlooked but significant component. Alcohol is the third leading cause of preventable deaths in the U.S. Although opioid addiction has gotten much media attention, and rightfully so, much less attention has been given to an alarming increase in alcohol-related issues, particularly among women. Occasionally in the wake of a celebrity death, media briefly turns attention to mental health and addiction issues, saying “Ask for help.” But still, there seems to be a disconnect between how we talk about alcohol and use alcohol messaging in media and marketing.

 
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