The Portman Group was established in 1989 by the UK's leading alcohol producers. Its role was to promote sensible drinking; to help prevent alcohol misuse; and to foster a balanced understanding of alcohol-related issues. The name derives from the fact that the early meetings to launch the organisation took place at the Guinness offices in Portman Square, London.
In 1996, the Portman Group took on the additional role of encouraging responsible marketing when, in response to fierce criticism of 'alcopops', it launched its Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Merchandising of Alcoholic Drinks. The Code has since been expanded to cover other forms of promotion, including websites, sponsorship, branded merchandise and sampling, and is widely credited with raising standards of marketing responsibility across the industry.
In 2004, the Portman Group established a website, www.drinkaware.co.uk, which gave comprehensive advice on responsible drinking to the public. Since then, the site has been promoted massively by the industry on packaging and in advertising, leading to it becoming the primary source of sensible drinking information for consumers.
From 1989 until 2006, the Portman Group ran educational campaigns to raise public awareness of sensible drinking advice and the dangers of alcohol misuse. At the end of 2006, however, the Portman Group transferred all its educational funding and resources to a new charity, The Drinkaware Trust, in a ground-breaking initiative to tackle alcohol misuse. This meant that the Portman Group could concentrate on raising standards of social responsibility within the industry.