Portman Group tells alcohol brands to stop being ‘offensive’

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Portman, the trade body for the alcohol industry, has launched new rules to make sure that the name, packaging and promotional material for any drink does not cause offence, particularly surrounding the areas of race, religion and gender.

The Portman Group is an organisation run by the UK’s leading alcohol producers to promote responsible drinking and prevent its misuse. This Sixth edition of the Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks follows a widescale consultation. Key changes include the addition of a new rule to prevent offensive marketing as well as a new unit-based definition for immoderate consumption that follows a change to weekly drinking guidelines by the Chief Medical Officer.

The Code which comes into effect in September 2019 adds that ‘mitigating factors’ for products containing up to six units will be taken into consideration – such as price and brand message.

Further changes include ensuring that there is no association with illegal behaviour or with ‘bravado, violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour’. The Code also includes the point that products should not claim to have mind-altering qualities or suggest that a product can enhance a person’s capabilities or has therapeutic qualities.

The key changes in full:
  • A drink’s name, packaging and any promotional material or activity should not cause serious or widespread offence. The rule sets out that Producers need to be careful when referencing race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age on packaging or promotional material.
  • Protection of the vulnerable has been explicitly added as an overarching principle of the Code.
  • The Code advises that single-serve, non-resealable containers shouldn’t be more than 4 units following the change in the CMO guidelines from daily to weekly guidance. This establishes a new and credible definition for assessing complaints about irresponsible sampling promotions or packaging such as single-serve, non-resealable containers. Mitigating factors for products up to six units such as premium status, pricing and share message inclusion may be taken into account.
  • A product should not suggest any association with illegal behaviour. This has been added to the Code rule prohibiting association with bravado or violent, aggressive, dangerous or anti-social behaviour. This prohibits any link between alcohol marketing and contemporary illegal behaviour and the glamorising of criminal activity.
  • A product should not claim to have mind-altering qualities or suggest that it will change mood or behaviour. This has been added to the Code rule that prevents any suggestion that a product has therapeutic qualities or can enhance mental or physical capabilities.

Read Portman’s revisions to the Code here.

These changes don’t come into effect until September so there is time to ensure that future alcohol campaigns and marketing promotions are totally compliant. PromoVeritas have worked with alcohol brands all over the world  and can help you to keep your brand safe from Rulings, fines and bad press. For all forms of advice simply contact PromoVeritas.

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