ABAC pre-vetting continues to rise

18 March, 2020 by Andy Young

Australia’s responsible alcohol marketing scheme, (ABAC) has released its annual report and review of 2019, which showed that pre-vetting requests are increasing.

As social media plays an increased role in all forms of advertising, including alcohol, and with tighter compliance rules and penalties now in place, ABAC’s Independent Chair, Harry Jenkins, has encouraged all alcohol advertisers to use ABAC’s pre-vetting service.

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“Throughout it’s over 20-year history ABAC has been alert to changes in the alcohol marketing landscape,” Jenkins said.

“While 2019 was another busy year for ABAC, with a marked increase in Adjudication Panel decisions and a higher proportion of complaints upheld, ABAC continued to respond by communicating with industry about issues that arise and developing suitable guidance and compliance materials in order to further educate the industry on areas for improvement.

“The Scheme’s pre-vetting service checks alcohol ads prior to publication and its complaints process assesses public complaints about alcohol marketing. The ABAC Adjudication Panel made 68 determinations relating to complaints received in 2019, with 39 upheld and 29 dismissed.

“Record pre-vetting requests were received in 2019 – 2192 pre-vetting requests up 25 per cent on last year. Pre-vetting remains the easiest and most efficient way for marketers to ensure their promotions are responsible before hitting the marketplace.

“The service benefits the community in identifying alcohol marketing that doesn’t meet ABAC’s standards, with 346 marketing communications rejected in 2019 and therefore not entering the market. The pre-vetting service is available to both signatories and non-signatories to the Scheme. All alcohol producers, distributors and retailers are encouraged to utilise this valuable service.”

The new compliance rules mean that alcohol marketing content and placement breaches are required to be remedied within five business days and orders for alcohol packaging and marketing collateral in breach of ABAC standards must be ceased immediately.

As of December 2019, ABAC also placed a time limit of three months on the sell down of existing stock found to breach the ABAC.

The ABAC Rules & Procedures now explicitly state that ABAC may take the following actions if a company fails to comply with an ABAC decision:

  • Notifying relevant State Liquor Licensing authorities, media platforms, media associations, Government, media and other relevant organisations of the Marketer’s failure to support the Panel’s decision; and
  • Terminating a Marketer’s status as a Code signatory.