The rules about Low-Alcohol drinks are changing.
Under the watchful eye of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the CAP Code regulates non-broadcast advertising in the UK, the rules of which can have a significant impact on what marketers can and cannot advertise. Compliance Manager, Amy Powell, recaps what has changed in the CAP Code.
The latest change in the regulations is mainly a clarification regarding low-alcohol products. Drinks below a certain alcohol by volume (ABV) threshold are exempted from CAP’s strict alcohol marketing restrictions. However, previously there has been some ambiguity as to what constitutes a ‘low alcohol’ drink. This has led to the slight revision in the codes, to clear up any potential confusion around this issue.
All drinks containing more than 0.5% ABV must be treated as alcoholic, by definition therefore, those under this threshold can be considered non-alcoholic.
However, drinks containing more than 0.5% ABV but no more than 1.2% ABV can be labelled as ‘low-alcohol’. As before, where an ad for a drink containing 0.5% or below has the effect of promoting an alcoholic drink, these rules apply in full. By that, CAP means that when the packaging for the non-alcoholic drink shares the same (or very similar) branding, logos and colours as it’s alcoholic counterpart, the non-alcoholic drink must comply with the CAP Code requirements.
This relatively minor change within CAP’s alcohol advertising rules demonstrates the continued level of scrutiny the alcohol marketing industry is under, due to the impact it can have on people’s health if managed irresponsibly.
But the changes might not stop there, in light of the growing popularity of low-alcohol products CAP (and BCAP) recently began a consultation on changing the rules about advertising them. Because of stricter guidelines on alcohol consumption and a higher consumer take-up of low alcohol drinks, the consultation is proposing the removal of restrictions on promoting their strength so that marketers can advertise low-alcohol drinks alongside standard strength ones. You can find out more about the consultation, or to respond to it before 15th April 2021, here.
This will be an interesting one to watch play out, the potential for brands to and irresponsibly hijack this change in order to not-so-subtly market their alcoholic version is pretty high and would only result in even more clarifications required.