New regulations for alcohol advertising online

Rebecca Prescott20 Oct 2011

© gisele13

The advertising of spirits drinks through social networking sites, blogs, apps and user-generated content will be subject to new guidelines agreed by top spirits producers from Europe and the US.

The new guidelines will extend the principles of responsible spirits advertising to cover all forms of digital marketing.

In what is a first in the industry, this collaboration by the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD) and the Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS) is a joint effort to provide a common and consistent approach to responsible advertising through social media.

In recognition of the fast-changing nature of digital media, the revised standards now state a clear set of principles that can be applied to current and emerging digital media, future-proofing guidelines for the marketing of spirit drinks.

The new standards demonstrate once more the industry's leadership in social responsibility and provide evidence that self-regulation is a more effective, efficient and proportionate response to the challenges of regulating social media, the EFRD said.

Alan Butler, chairman of the EFRD, said: "Digital marketing is becoming increasingly important in our engagement with consumers. These new guidelines will ensure that we apply the same high standards to all new media channels and technologies including social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook."

The guidelines state that spirits marketers will:

  • Restrict access to official brand pages for users under 18 years old on social networking sites. When such registration does not exist, age affirmation mechanisms will be used prior to direct interaction with a consumer.
  • On channels not controlled by spirits marketers, only place advertising if the audience data shows more than 70% of viewers are above 18 years old.
  • Monitor brand pages on social networking sites to remove inappropriate user-generated content within 48 hours.
  • Display clear privacy policies that ensure compliance with data protection and privacy rules and provide for a speedy unsubscribe process in direct marketing.
  • Include responsible drinking messages, preferably in the form of a consumer information website address in digital marketing communications, wherever practicable.

Source: EFRD