ABAC urges independent brewers to adopt its standards

22 October, 2018 by Andy Young

The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) has released its Third Quarterly Report for 2018, which shows two breaches of the Code, both by independent breweries.

One of the breaches was for Instagram posts which had strong sexual innuendo and the other was for packaging, which the adjudication panel found could be confused for a soft drink. While ABAC’s Independent Chair, Harry Jenkins AO, called for better understanding from the brewers, the CEO of the Independent Brewers Association, Alexis Roitman, told TheShout that the newly released labelling guidelines will help its members with understanding what they need to do to comply with the standard.

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“While creativity in marketing is to be expected, clearly these breaches do not reflect the responsible marketing approach required and adopted by the majority of alcohol companies.

“The independent beer sector is encouraged to lift its game and become a responsible part of the industry. A good start would be for the sector to make itself aware of its obligations under the ABAC rules and comply before a breach needs to be remedied.

“That said, it is pleasing that these non-signatory brewers have all co-operated with the ABAC process and acted swiftly to correct the breaches, though it does underscore the benefit to all advertisers of becoming signatories to the Code and pre-vetting their ads and packaging through ABAC before going live.

“In none of the cases outlined had the marketing or packaging been pre-vetted under ABAC. ABAC is currently engaged with the Independent Brewers Association to provide information and education opportunities in relation to the ABAC standards to its members. We are encouraged that the Association has last week released a set of guidelines for beer labelling that include ABAC standards for responsible marketing.”

Roitman said the guidelines, which the IBA has been working on for the last few months, showed just how seriously the association and its members take beer advertising.

“The IBA and its members take beer labelling and beer marketing very seriously and that’s why we launched the labelling guidelines, which was done after extensive consultation with members and stakeholders,” she told TheShout.

Roitman also said that the very nature of independent breweries means that a lot of brewers are often working in very small teams and across different functions and so the labelling guidelines help those teams to understand what is required and what they have to comply with.

“We think these guidelines will go a long way to helping brewers to know what the obligations are and to comply with them,” she added.

The ABAC Quarterly Report also detailed its updated best practice guide for responsible digital marketing, following an increase in complaints about posts by social media influencers promoting alcohol products.

The ABAC checklist for companies that engage social influencers to promote their products includes ensuring the influencers are:

  • are at least 25 years of age,
  • apply available age restriction controls, and
  • disclose that the content is a marketing communication.

“Facebook and Instagram have recently advised how social influencers can age-gate their posts that promote alcohol brands, and we strongly urge all alcohol companies to ensure this is utilised,” Jenkins added.

Last month the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking has announced a partnership with four leading social media platforms Facebook (including Instagram), Youtube, Snapchat and Twitter to work together to deliver new and robust standards of responsibility in alcohol advertising.