In the 2023 Fourth Quarter Report, the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) has outlined a significant increase in the number of complaints received in 2023, when compared with the previous year.
The report for the final quarter of 2023 noted a total of 53 complaints received, 30 of which raised issues covered by the Code and were referred for determination. Of the complaints, determinations were reached in 21 cases, with 12 dismissed and six upheld by the panel.
The majority of breaches concerned alcohol packaging which was determined by the panel as having strong or evident appeal to minors.
Further alcohol marketing complaints found to be in breach of ABAC standards included messaging that diminishes the harmful effects of alcohol, implications that consumption will provide a health benefit, and failure to age restrict social media content.
ABAC Chair Hon Tony Smith said: “Last quarter the most common cause of a breach of Code standards was alcohol packaging having strong or evident appeal to minors. Breaches related to soft drink, food, video game and other themes that are familiar and relatable to under 18 year olds.
“Each year this Code standard attracts the greatest number of complaints and Code breaches and the new Code provides greater clarity around this provision.
“ABAC complaints and determinations have increased significantly during 2023 when compared with the previous year, resulting in an increase in Code breaches that have been enforced by ABAC.”
Alcohol marketers are reminded of ABAC’s pre-vetting service, introduced as an efficient way for marketers to check their promotions and packaging are responsible before hitting the marketplace, and in turn reducing the number of complaints. In the final quarter of 2023, the pre-vetting service received 780 submissions, of which 81 were rejected.
Further, to assist with the responsible management of digital marketing, businesses are encouraged to use the ABAC’s new Best Practice Guide of Digital Marketing, released in December 2023.
“I encourage marketers to make use of the wide range of free resources and checklists on the ABAC website and to use the ABAC pre-vetting service as an independent check that their ads and packaging are meeting responsible alcohol marketing standards,” added Smith.
“Digital media is complex and rapidly evolving. The Digital Best Practice Guide assists industry to keep pace with these changes and understand all of the options available to them to make socially responsible choices in the management of their digital marketing.
“It is important that alcohol marketers familiarise themselves with the various ABAC Guides. With the strengthened ABAC Code released in April last year now fully operational, now is the perfect time for alcohol marketers to educate themselves on the new Code through ABAC’s free one hour online training course.”
The final quarter of 2023 concluded the transition to the ABAC’s revised Code, with all complaints received in 2024 being considered against the new Code. The strengthened code, which followed an extensive 15-month public consultation process, includes changes that will further protect children from exposure to alcohol advertising.