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.