A new report by the Youth Alcohol Advertising Council (YAAC) suggests that under -18s are not being protected to the full extent possible under the existing rules.
The group found that advertising for leading alcohol brands regularly breaches the codes including rules which prohibit adverts appealing to under-18s.
The group has made complaints to the UK’s advertising regulator, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), about the marketing of three brands in particular: Frosty Jack’s cider, Smirnoff and Lambrini.
The ASA is investigating one case but two were dismissed in part on the grounds that characters in the adverts were not shown drinking.
This provides advertisers ample scope to make strong associations between alcohol and prohibited themes, and is contrary to the first principle of the code compelling advertisers to apply the spirit in which the code was written, not just the letter of the rules.
YAAC’s work also suggests that advertisers are exploiting weaker monitoring of 'below the line' marketing, through websites and social media such as YouTube, to appeal to audiences under 18 years old.
The findings suggest that the current rules, and in particular how they are applied, is failing to adequately protect children and young people.
According to the Government’s own Alcohol Strategy there is a known link between alcohol advertising and under-18s alcohol consumption that requires children and young people are robustly protected from exposure.
YAAC simply calls for greater protection from alcohol advertising by applying the rules as they stand, in full, across traditional and digital media.
Alcohol Concern director of campaigns, Emily Robinson, said: "If Government is serious about tackling binge drinking, then protecting children through full implementation of the existing codes on alcohol advertising is an obvious place to start.
If the alcohol industry insists on bending the rules to target young people and irresponsibly sell more of their product then we need more robust regulation that prevents advertisers from creatively sidestepping the rules."
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