A visionary and collaborative leader who laid the foundations for a ground-breaking private sector coalition to reduce underage drinking.
All of us at the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) are mourning the loss of the visionary former Chair of its CEO Group, Sir Ivan Menezes, who has passed away unexpectedly, weeks before his retirement.
Sir Ivan, Chief Executive of Diageo, was unequivocal in his commitment. “We have a duty to promote responsible drinking, and tackle alcohol misuse, and we’re in a unique position to do so.”
In a fiercely competitive sector, he always saw the bigger picture. His belief in constructive collaboration fostered a sense of unity of purpose among other leading beer, wine, and spirits producers to play a positive and proactive role in reducing harmful drinking and improving the health of communities across the globe. As Chair of the IARD CEO Group when the five-year programme of Producers’ Commitments was delivered in 2017, he announced that 97% of contracts for all advertising agencies had to comply with responsible alcohol advertising codes. Furthermore, he set out the significant increases in drink driving prevention programs, underage drinking campaigns, and responsible retailing initiatives rolled out across the world.
Sir Ivan could see the progress made by the leading producers in supporting positive change in many parts of the world, with reductions in underage drinking, drinking to excess, and drinking and driving. But, as he said in 2017, “Through our 2012 Producers’ Commitments, we have laid strong foundations for the work ahead, but recognize there is a lot more to do. We cannot act alone. Innovative partnerships with retailers, government departments, health agencies and nongovernmental organizations have been instrumental to the progress we have made.” His longer-term vision was wider, deeper partnerships with other sectors to ensure positive change in every part of the world.
It was Sir Ivan that recognised that the exponential growth of digital marketing could be a game-changer as technological safeguards could be introduced in partnership with platforms to prevent minors seeing alcohol marketing online. He championed standards for digital marketing across the industry and, in particular, led collective outreach by IARD CEOs to cement a ground-breaking partnership between IARD members and the world’s biggest digital platforms – Facebook (now Meta), Google and Snap – to this end. Sir Ivan understood that when the CEOs of IARD member companies reach out together with an invitation for partnership working, people take note and change can be accelerated.
But this was only the beginning. The CEO Group quickly saw that this method of partnership working could raise standards in other areas too. Together, the CEOs have started opening the entire value chain, including suppliers, agencies, retail partners, and brand ambassadors. This thinking, driven by the leadership of Albert Baladi, Beam Suntory’s CEO and Sir Ivan’s successor as IARD’s CEO Chair, was the catalyst for the establishment of the world’s first global standards for online sale and delivery of alcohol alongside 18 of the leading e-Commerce platforms, and the first global standards for influencer marketing, partnering with 12 global advertising agencies.
Sir Ivan’s visionary approach to partnership continues to accelerate under the current leadership of Dolf van den Brink of Heineken – the momentum has resulted in IARD’s 13 Members being joined by 40 other leading companies already, with many more to come, each taking concrete steps towards delivering on the United Nations mandate of eliminating of marketing, advertising, and sales to minors.
A significant part of Sir Ivan’s legacy, as so eloquently described by others, should be his understanding of the true value of teamwork, and partnership, when even the fiercest of commercial competitors can come together to accelerate progress on a shared mission for a greater good. The continuing downward trends in harmful drinking in many countries, the ever-growing number of private sector partners committing themselves to joining the cause, and the continued visible leadership of global CEOs in tackling the harmful use of alcohol are, and will continue to be, testament to his belief in the power of collaboration.
CEO and President, IARD