Cheers!… to advertising alcohol…socially responsibly

The Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code (Code) has been in play for just over a year now and social responsibility is top of the list of concerns with alcohol advertisements.

Code Application

The Code forms part the ASA’s self-regulatory framework and sits alongside legislation that applies to the advertisement of alcohol, such as the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012.  The Code applies to alcohol advertising and promotion in any medium.  This includes not only traditional TV advertisements but extends to influencers engaged to provide content to advertise alcohol.

With the increased trend of drinking low alcohol alternatives, and the potential for confusion between alcoholic and low or zero-percent products, the Code also extends to the advertisement and promotion of a consumable that contains less than 1.15% of ethanol if marketed as a non-alcoholic variant of an alcoholic product (with more than 1.15% ethanol by volume).  

Social Responsibility

The Code focuses on the following three main principles, social responsibility; truthful representation; and alcohol sponsorship advertising and promotion.  Alcohol advertisements being prepared and placed with a high standard of social responsibility was the dominant theme of the first 31 decisions released by the ASA Complaints Board under the Code.

In ensuring that advertisements are prepared with a due sense of social responsibility, the Code focuses on ensuring that alcohol advertisement and promotion is targeted toward adults and that appropriate measures are in place to protect and prevent minors and vulnerable individuals from accessing alcohol advertising content.  Individuals who are currently popular with minors should not be used to promote alcohol unless appropriate care is taken to ensure the advertisement is only accessed by adults.  Advertisements should not suggest that consumption of alcohol will better an individual’s situation or attributes, nor should they encourage excessive drinking.

An example of social responsibility being considered by the ASA was seen in the Complaints Board’s decision over an advertisement on Countdown’s website which included alcohol in an advertisement for “more than 500 everyday essentials”.  A complaint was filed that it was not socially responsible to promote alcohol as an everyday essential.  The Complaints Board agreed and upheld the complaint.  It considered that the take-away from the advertisement was that “everyday essentials” were products that were necessary items, used daily. The representation of alcohol in this way was found to go against the main principles of the Code. Consequently, the Complaints Board said the advertisement was not socially responsible.

Take Out

With all this to consider, to avoid feeling groggy after your next alcohol campaign, take a moment before launching the campaign to check that your advertisement stands up straight next to the requirements of the Code.

If you have any questions about your obligations under the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code, please get in touch with our Business Advice Team or your usual contact at Hesketh Henry.

Disclaimer:  The information contained in this article is current at the date of publishing and is of a general nature.  It should be used as a guide only and not as a substitute for obtaining legal advice.  Specific legal advice should be sought where required.

Do you need expert legal advice?
Contact the expert team at Hesketh Henry.
Media contact - Kerry Browne
Please contact Kerry with any media enquiries and with any questions related to marketing or sponsorships on +64 9 375 8747 or via email.

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