ABAC Unveils Tougher Alcohol Ad Code Revealed With New Rules For Alcohol-Free Drinks & Influencers

ABAC Unveils Tougher Alcohol Ad Code Revealed With New Rules For Alcohol-Free Drinks & Influencers

The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) has released an updated version of its advertising code and has introduced new rules for low- and alcohol-free drinks, as well as tightened rules around influencer beverage spruiking.

Since it last reviewed the code in 2017, ABAC had received its first report of an advert pertaining to an alcohol-free drink and alcohol alternatives — which were described as a “gateway” product for children in some of its 26 industry submissions.

As a result, ABAC has expanded its code to cover all low-alcohol and alcohol-free alternatives and will develop a specific advertising code for these products.

The Committee that reviewed the Code said that when “describing a product as ‘beer’, ‘wine’, ‘spirits’ or similar, equivalent concerns apply as for brand extensions, namely promoting products that have an association with alcohol to minors; or suggesting irresponsible alcohol use, such as drink ‘beer’ then drive.”

It has also explicitly stated the NHMRC drinking level recommendations in the code — previously it had only been implicitly stated. The Committee also said that the use of humour and highlighting of references to irresponsible drinking, while common in alcohol advertising through all channels but particularly on social, was not acceptable.

Similarly, it said that it would be signalling again to advertisers that adverts that demean moderation in alcohol consumption or choosing low-alcohol alternatives, were not acceptable.

ABAC also noted that while alcohol ads are not permitted on linear TV during certain hours, this does not apply to connected TV. The body said that the industry needs to better educate viewers on the differences in the delivery of advertising via linear and digital television so there is less confusion about how advertising is regulated via the two different systems.

However, the body will also set up a working group to explore how alcohol ads on connected TV only reach adults.

After receiving several submissions related to sports sponsorships by alcohol brands, including naming rights at events and the inclusion of the brand name and/or logo on participants’ uniforms, it will develop a sponsorship best practice guide for the alcohol industry.

The body received several complaints throughout the pandemic about references to alcohol being therapeutic and a coping mechanism for the external strife at that time. The body said that while there was an existing provision about advertising alcohol as a coping mechanism, it would change the Code, to state this explicitly.

A technical working group would also be set up to develop guidance within the ABAC Digital
Best Practice Guide to ensure alcohol ads online are not targeted to those vulnerable to alcohol use.




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