Dry July – The Real Agenda?

I'm now a target

Kerre McIvor: Booze barons threatened by charity month

I have a few questions about the article and what the agenda really is.

The title of this article is attention grabbing awesomeness, gotta give it credit. Booze barons – who is she referring to? I’m sure most people would have thought Lion & DB?  But, this isn’t the case.

Before I get into asking some questions about points in this article it seems as though Dry July does have positive benefits.

  1. To the health of the people who take part, and have a month off alcohol (Even though they could do this anytime of the year, and not have to get their friends and family to give them money. Also, they shouldn’t have to want till July if alcohol is having an impact on their health. There are some interesting links from New Scientist below about a month off alcohol)

  2. To the community, and the organisations that receive some of the funds raised.

“I was happy to take part again this year and be one of the spokeswomen” Is this article an ad for Dry July as part of Kerre’s role as a spokeswoman for Dry July? 

“But a post on Facebook and a blog from a Wellington wine reviewer reveals more than a few industry people feel Dry July is self-righteous.”

It seems that a Facebook post and blog are enough to be referred to as the opinion of the whole industry, and fronted by the ‘Booze Barons’? In fact some in the liquor industry are actively supporting Dry July – Stolen Rum. It isn’t like any of the large liquor companies have made comment, therefore a handful of Facebook comments and blogs is a storm in a tea-cup and hardly warrants the title of this article or even to have a piece written about in a national publication. Unless there is an agenda? Who is a spokeswomen for Dry July again?

“They claim people who want to be sponsored for not drinking alcohol must have a real problem, and that people who are saving money by not drinking should donate it to the cancer charity.” 

Rebecca Gibb made an interesting point.

1. If you think that not drinking alcohol for 31 days is worthy of sponsorship, you really need to take a good look at your drinking habits; 

It isn’t the people who have stopped drinking that are donating to charity, but their friends and family. So your friends and family are saying good on you for not drinking in July, and here is some money for Cancer related stuff cause who can say no to giving money to a good cause, especially the BIG “C”?

Another point that Nigel Kelly raised on Facebook was the connection between drinking and cancer? It took me a bit to think this through but then I thought about other charity fund-raising activities, they seems to have clear activities associated to the cause.

  • 40 Hour Famine – Starvation
  • Shave For A Cure – Leukaemia
  • Dry July – Cancer????

Dry July as a fund-raising activity starts to raise some questions. Are they implying drinking alcohol is related to cancer?

Another thought, what fund-raising activity for charity actually targets a single, unrelated, industry which results in a boycott of its products?

40 Hour famine – increase in sales of barley sugars and Just Juice.
Shave For A Cure probably does effect hairdressers to some degree.
Pink Ribbons result in the sale of more Tim Tams right?  Or beauty products, chocolate or even tire caps :-)

“That makes me question my relationship with the liquor industry.”
“…a shallow relationship based on money and good times..”

Little Harvest is a new range of lighter wines launched this month – with Kerre McIvor as the face of the brand 

From the Little Harvest website – “We are proud to partner with Kerre McIvor and Paper Plus for their Books and Bubbles events.”  

This is a little confusing now, slamming the liquor industry as a spokeswomen for Dry July, but also a face of a wine brand?

“A lot of people who are doing Dry July donate to various charities, and last time many of them donated the amount they would have spent on booze during July.”  – as Nigel Kelly said “I’ll say it again if you think it’s a great cause DONATE SOME OF YOUR MONEY then go about your business.”

“I’m certain the liquor industry will be able to sustain the loss of 5000 drinkers for one month.” – Yes it probably will, and a calculation below might show that (or not), but think some of this money goes to employing people who pay taxes, these taxes go to hospitals etc right?

Lets considering some numbers (I’m sure an Economist or Statistician could produce something more in-depth) . The following assumes World Health Organisation alcohol consumption figures.

NZers average annually 13.7 litres of pure alcohol per capita (WHO), which is 1.14 litres of pure alcohol per month.

5700 litres of pure alcohol during Dry July.

A standard drink is 10gms of pure alcohol or 12.7ml.

This equates to 448,819 standard drinks.

If we assume a glass or wine or a 5% premium beer is 1.3 standard drinks then that’s 345,245 drinks at $10 (for ease of calculation) at a bar or restaurant, then the potential value* of Dry July to the hospitality industry is $3,452,450 ( = $450,319.56 is GST)

[*of course not all alcohol is purchased on-premise, but it is a potential value]

5700 litres of beer (if it was all beer, sorry I didn’t bother working out the split for beer, wine and spirits as an average) with excise rate of $28.273 = $161,156.10 Excise Tax

Potential lost revenue for the government will be $450,319.56 GST + $161,156.10 Excise Tax + income taxes from employees and companies = at least $566,475.66

Another thought, what about all the people doing Dry July without signing up? Like all the dudes that grow a moustache for Movember. We could be looking at an additional 5000 DJ’s. So just double the above numbers.

Dry July this year is working on an 80/20 rule. Basically this means for every dollar you give 80c goes to the charity and 20c they keep. So based on last year they raised $765,000 (which is awesome), but the 80/20 rule would mean the Dry July trust would keep $153,000, and $612,000 would go to charities (which wouldn’t normally get anything, so well done Dry July).

If you now look at both sides, and assume the extra Dry Julyers who aren’t signed up, there could be the potential of the government missing out on over $1 million in revenue (which potentially goes into healthcare, hospitals and ultimately cancer related treatments). Therefore Dry July needs to increase the donations to match or exceed the amount raise to have a net positive effect in the economy.

Geez, I wasn’t expecting to get here when working out how many drinks wouldn’t be drunk.

On the flip side though how do you measure the intangible effects on the health of 10,000 people not drinking alcohol for a month? Over the long-term this could well exceed $1 million per annum. Then again I’m only speculating now and don’t have any data to back up this assumption.

“But, liquor industry, if I can’t have a short break without you telling me I have a problem that’s not a healthy relationship. And I think you’re the one with the problem, not me.”  I can’t find anywhere in Nigel or Rebecca’s posts where there was any comment that you couldn’t take a break.

I find this article from Kerre less compelling and transparent than the comments from Nigel Kelly and Rebecca Gibb. Yes both have an agenda working in/with the liquor industry and it is clear they do. The issue for me with Kerre’s article is it is hard to read her position, it seems conflicted. Spokeswomen for Dry July. The face of the brand Little Harvest and its support of The Books & Bubbles. I don’t have a problem with her involvement with any of these things and they are great and add value to the community and the people involved. I just find this article is an emotive promotional piece for Dry July. And you know what, it worked because I have just written a piece on Dry July too. So well done Kerre you win.

During writing this I had a thought, what would be better than Dry July as a cause to start a charity. Give up sugar for Diabetes. This would have a larger positive impact on the total community than Dry July.

Watch out Chelsea Sugar you might be next. (hehe this might get Fonterra off the hook for The Cheese Freeze)


Taking some time off from alcohol has positive benefits see below:

Our liver vacation: Is a dry January really worth it?

“What you have is a pretty average group of British people who would not consider themselves heavy drinkers, yet stopping drinking for a month alters liver fat, cholesterol and blood sugar, and helps them lose weight,” says Moore. “If someone had a health product that did all that in one month, they would be raking it in.”

A break from booze, a break from bad habits

But a dry period may help with that, too. Alcohol is a drug: one that kills 2.5 million people each year globallyMovie Camera and which the World Health Organizationranks as the third largest risk factor for premature death. When, how and why we drink is strongly affected by personal and social factors.



No point in booze-free July: expert

“A danger of stopping for a month is many problem drinkers will convince themselves they don’t have an issue. However, once they start drinking again, in no time they are back consuming as much as ever.”

It would seem that when you are a spokesperson for something, you can’t think critically for yourself, taking all the facts into consideration. Reading the comments it would seem as though the spokesperson is appropriate for the target audience. As long as the message is getting out there, and the facts or other opinions don’t get in the way.