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Several major alcohol brands have announced plans to establish a common set of standards that will allow them to self-regulate marketing campaigns across the EU.

The Responsible Marketing Pact – which includes Diageo, Carlsberg, Heineken and Bacardi – will work with the Word Federation of Advertisers to agree standards for responsible advertising.

The new standards will include rules that:

  • Prevent minors from seeing alcohol marketing on social media, including user-generated content and Facebook sponsored stories.
  • Ensure ads are only placed in media channels where at least 70% of the audience is reasonably expected to be above legal age of purchase.
  • Prevent any alcohol ads that might be particularly attractive to minors by ensuring that the content of ads appeals primarily to adults.

This is the first time alcoholic beverage companies have come together to create a self-imposed standard for marketing campaigns.

Brands found to be in breach of the rules will be hit with sanctions including mandatory pre-clearance for future campaigns and referral to the national regulatory authorities in cases of repeat offenses.

Domecq Bodegas CEO Christian Barré said alcohol companies were voluntarily contributing to the EU’s objective of reducing alcohol-related health problems.

By setting self-regulatory standards that go significantly further than the law, and verifying that these are complied with, we will make a tangible difference to the governance of beverage alcohol marketing.”

Rules around the marketing of alcoholic drinks are already strict, and the introduction of the Responsible Marketing Pact shows that brands want to be involved in setting the standard for ad campaigns.

We've already seen examples of self-regulation in digital marketing, with many alcohol brands making their Twitter feeds private.

Some have also started to experiment with a new ‘Twitter Gate’ tool from Vitrue that allows companies to ask a user’s age before allowing them follow their feed.

David Moth

Published 16 April, 2012 by David Moth @ Econsultancy

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via Google+ and LinkedIn

1688 more posts from this author

Comments (1)


Neale Gilhooley

Any industry always wants to go down the route of self regulation for very obvious reasons, and that can work, but in such a competitive industry drinks marketers will always be vying for an edge from their agencies and creative teams and some rule bending is inevitable. Over the years this rule bending has actually re-shaped the rules as society changes. But the biggest issue will be that the worst offenders will almost certainly be operating out with this voluntary code.

The sanctions are a joke, with the toughest being “referral to the national regulatory authorities in cases of repeat offenses”. So why not just give the regulatory board more powers to start with? Otherwise the regulatory bodies will always be lagging behind the marketing industry.

over 4 years ago

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