In a move that has been widely welcomed by the industry, 1 November 2017 will see responsible placement of alcohol marketing included in the ABAC Responsible Marketing Code (ABAC), to regulate where alcohol marketing can appear.
“These new standards include additional safeguards for minors, namely a requirement to use available age restriction controls in digital media to exclude minors from an audience, to only use media platforms with a 75 per cent-plus adult audience, verification of ages as 18+ for electronic direct mail and no placement with content or programs primarily aimed at minors.
“Most alcohol marketers are already very conscious of these issues and include such restrictions within their internal policies, but the inclusion of these standards in the ABAC Code means that alcohol marketers will be accountable to the community via ABAC Complaints Panel decisions.
“ABAC periodically reviews its Code and procedures to ensure it remains at the cutting-edge of developing new approaches to ensure a robust and effective Code for alcohol marketing in Australia,” Ferguson added.
Alcohol Beverages Australia welcomed the ABAC Code changes with Executive Director Fergus Taylor, describing it as a “sensible move that is welcomed by the industry”.
“The changes complement the existing robust ABAC restrictions which are in place to make sure alcohol advertising does not appeal to or target minors,” Taylor said.
“These additional regulations mean that the community can be confident that alcohol advertising and marketing in Australia will continue to be vigorously and successfully regulated by the strict, independent ABAC system.
“Importantly Australians agree – recently-published research confirms that the standards set by ABAC in its rulings are actually more conservative than community expectations, so the industry is staying ahead of community standards.”
The Winemakers’ Federation of Australia Chief Executive, Tony Battaglene, also welcomed the changes.
“The ABAC Scheme currently has strong guidelines to regulate the content of alcohol marketing and the community is happy with how that’s working” said Battaglene.
“Recent ABAC research showed the majority of its adjudication decisions were actually more conservative than community expectation, so the content controls are working well. But as the industry adjusts to new technologies and medium like online and sponsorships, it makes sense to evolve the marketing safeguards to keep pace.
“Ads will now be only be allowed where the likely audience is at least 75 per cent adults and will be required to utilise age gating technologies online wherever they exist.
“WFA applauds ABAC for responding to community expectations and demonstrating that the code is both effective and responsive when regulating alcohol advertising.”
Taylor also highlighted a recent Colmar Brunton Social Research Survey, which showed that a significant majority of survey respondents had no concern or offence about advertising standards in general, and were not particularly concerned about the content of alcohol advertising in Australia.
“A decade-long decline in underage drinking and decrease in young people’s risky drinking has been achieved while alcohol advertising has been increasing and diversifying onto new platforms like sponsorships and social media,” Taylor said.
“These positive results emphasise that the alcohol beverages industry is marketing its products responsibly and co-regulation is working, and the industry will keep working with governments and local communities to ensure this continues.”