Back to Basics: Alcohol Marketing
Every month our Legal Team will explore the world of prize promotions via our ‘Back to Basics’ series. This month Emily Vickers from our Legal Team focuses on alcohol and promotions.
Recently a number of well-known alcohol brands have received bad press for failing to comply with alcohol marketing guidelines, despite the clear rules from The Portman Group and the Committees of Advertising Practices. Below is a summary of the key information to follow in order to not only protect your brand, but those that are vulnerable and underage.
The CAP Code
As we have seen earlier in the Back-to-Basics Series, the CAP Code (Committee of Advertising Practices) is essentially the rule book for the Advertising Standards Authority. The ASA has a duty to oversee the responsible advertising and marketing of alcohol and to protect the vulnerable.
Within the CAP Code, Section 18 relates specifically to alcohol marketing and covers social responsibility, excessive consumption and targeting under 18s.
Under the CAP Code marketing communications must be socially responsible and must contain nothing that is likely to lead people to adopt styles of drinking that are unwise. They must not portray drinking alcohol as a challenge, and if a soft drink is promoted as a mixer, CAP’s alcohol rules apply in full. Ads must not make any health, fitness or weight-control claims with exception of low or reduced alcohol.
Three key rules to be aware of under the CAP Code are:
- “Marketing communications must not imply that alcohol might be indispensable or take priority in life, or that drinking alcohol can overcome boredom, loneliness or other problems.”
- “Marketing communications must be socially responsible…care should be taken not to exploit the young, the immature or those or are mentally or socially vulnerable.”
- Ads must not emphasise the importance of alcohol or suggest that it can be used as a means of dealing with difficult, stressful or boring situations.
The Portman Group
The Portman Group is the responsible body for the UK alcohol industry. They are the lead on best practice in alcohol social responsibility, they regulate the promotion and packaging of alcohol sold or marketed in the UK and they challenge and encourage the industry to market its products responsibly.
The Portman Group have published the Portman Code which consists of rules applying to alcohol marketing, promoting responsible drink and preventing alcohol misuse
Alcohol marketing must abide by the 8 following principles:
- Focus on high alcohol content as a dominant theme
- Suggest any association with bravado, or with violent, aggressive or anti-scoial behaviour
- Suggest any association with, acceptance of, or allusion to, illicit drugs
- Suggest any association with sexual activity or success
- Suggest that consumption can lead to social success or popularity
- Suggest that the product can enhance mental or physical capabilities
- Encourage illegal, irresponsible or immoderate consumption such as binge-drinking, drunkenness or drink-driving
- Appeal to under 18s – must look and be over 25
Two key rules to be aware of under the Portman Code are:
- Rule 3.1 – the alcoholic nature of a drink should be communicated on the packaging with absolute clarity.
- Rule 3.2(h) – a drink, its packaging and any promotional material should not in any direct or indirect way have a particular appeal to under-18s
How we can help you
We can provide global legal concept advice to ensure that your promotion is fully compliant and does not conflict with the CAP Code or the Portman Code. We can draft the terms and conditions for your promotion and review all marketing communications to ensure compliance with all the rules and regulations pertaining to your promotion.
Not only can we help with the practicalities of carrying out the promotion, but we will also protect your reputation.