The European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD) has launched a campaign to help educate the industry on regulatory codes for alcohol brands but experts argue that greater industry-wide collaboration and transparency would help marketers keep abreast of how they apply to new channels.


Yesterday, the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD) launched a digital campaign to help marketers and agencies understand how codes of advertising should be applied to promote responsible marketing of alcohol brands.

It has created a website that aims to promote the updated common standards that it agreed on with the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) last September ( 20 September 2011) in response to new marketing channels, such as social media.

Carole Brigaudeau, EFRD manager, said the guidelines and training tools on the website were designed to educate but are open to further interpretation as technology develops.

“Digital media changes all the time, so the guidelines cannot be too specific,” she said. “If they are, we risk not being able to future proof self regulation. We have a digital task force in place to question how to interpret rules for new media.”

Greater clarification and interpretation has been welcomed, but in order to better address the fast pace of change, industry experts believe greater collaboration and willingness to share practical case studies will help brands market more responsibly.

Last year, the ASA launched an investigation into the use of Facebook Sponsored Stories by alcohol brands after some agencies raised questions. The ad formats use information including user images within ad creative, which potentially breaks the ASA guideline to prevent people who look under age appearing in alcohol ad creative ( 8 July 2011).

Simon Mansell, CEO of TBG digital at the time, had to pause running ads in that format on Facebook while the guidelines were clarified.

According to Mansell, the EFRD website and tools were a good start. “However, I am not sure how they plan to keep up with all the social media issues,” he said. “For example, on Twitter you have to Direct Message people to check they are 18, which is not a very scalable solution, although I am sure Twitter will fix it soon. Agencies can find it difficult to keep up with Facebook and Twitter. Our agency, for example, has 121 people working on them – so regulators will need a real strategy to keep up with everything.”

At the end of last year, alcohol brand Jose Cuervo (pictured) ran a campaign in which the online component allowed people to feature in a music video by band OK Go by signing into Twitter or Facebook. The technology then turned their profile image into a pixel and inserted into the video ( 25 November 2011).

In Brazil, where the campaign was focused, the age in which you can feature people in ad creative is 18 and over, but in the UK they need to look, and be proven to be, over 25.

Paul Jakimciw, group business director at Albion, the agency behind the campaign, said the Facebook API, which was used for the sign-in process, enabled ages to be screened, but a human layer of moderation was also used.

“Regulations can sometimes be very abstract and far from the reality of what people are trying to do,” he said. “It is difficult to translate to digital because the channel has so many variables compared to traditional marketing. There needs to be more appetite to share and learn at a broader scale.”


Published 14 February, 2012 by NMA Staff

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