Day 66. I have been reading the most amazing book - Drink, by Ann Dowsett Johnston. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
The subtitle of the book is 'The Deadly Relationship Between Women and Alcohol,' and it examines why more women than ever before are drinking too much.
Dowsett Johnston argues that, in many ways, alcohol is the new tobacco. In the same way that the tobacco industry started to deliberately target women once the male market was saturated, so - in the 1990s - the alcohol manufacturers began to do the same.
The alcohol industry, she argues, 'is conspiring to drip-feed us the notion that cocktails will deliver us happy endings, rescuing us from the great modern scourges of loneliness, exhaustion and boredom.'
In her home country of Canada, Dowsett Johnston remembers the launch of brands with names like French Rabbit, Girl's Night Out Wines and Mommy Juice. The fastest growing spirits line in the US in 2012 was the Skinnygirl Cocktail range with their ad-line 'Drink Like a Lady.'
In the UK - which Ann describes beautifully as 'the Linsday Lohan' of the western world - Diageo launched Smirnoff Ice in 1999, targeted at young women, which quickly became the number one alcopop.
And, in addition to all the advertising and marketing, we had Sex in the City, with Carrie Bradshaw selling us a dream floating on a sea of Cosmopolitans, and Bridget Jones with her endless Chardonnays and her fairy-tale ending.
Somehow, alcohol became inextricably entwined with women's liberation. Alcohol could, we were told, make us feel more confident, more relaxed, more sociable and more desirable. And, of course, it did seem to live up to the promise - for many years - until, suddenly, it didn't. We discovered that everything we thought alcohol was giving us it was actually taking away, drip by insidious drip.
So where was I in the 1990s when all this was going on? In advertising. And the awful thing is that as I was reading all of this, I remembered working on a campaign for a major multinational re-launching a wine brand aimed at young, professional women! Did I have any qualms about this? Hell no! I was thrilled. I had, I believed, found a way of combining my work with my favourite hobby.
I spent months around board room tables presenting concepts and mood boards showing sexy, slim, confident women gathered in sociable groups in the sunshine, sipping their wine, tipping their heads back and laughing with abandon.
Did we feature any miserable, middle-aged housewives drinking at home on their own to erase the stress and boredom of their lives? God no! It was all empowerment, freedom, sophistication. I sold the dream, not realising that I'd end up living the nightmare.
Isn't that ironic? When the Goddess of Karma was looking for someone to introduce to the wine witch, what better candidate than me?
Isn't it true, my friends, that what goes around comes around? So now it's pay back time. My mission is to advertise sober. It's up to us to make sober as sexy and desirable as we once thought alcohol was.
Are you with me?
Related post: Why so many well educated, middle aged women drink too much