Alcohol advertisers meeting new ABAC rules

20 April, 2018 by Andy Young

The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) has published its first quarterly report of the year, which highlights that there have been no breaches of the new placement rules introduced last year.

The stronger restrictions on alcohol marketers were introduced in November last year and they further strengthened ABAC’s Content requirements to cover the placement of advertisements. Specifically, the new rules include mandatory age gating, a minimum 75 per cent adult audience share, banning advertising in programs or content primarily aimed at minors and banning electronic mail advertising to minors.

Advertisement

ABAC Chair, The Hon Alan Ferguson, said that he was happy to see alcohol advertisers were adhering to and respecting the new code.

“It is pleasing to see that alcohol marketers are meeting our recently introduced marketing placement restrictions,” he said.

“The new restrictions came into effect on 1 November 2017 to ensure alcohol marketing does not target under 18-year-olds.

“Since the new provisions were established, a number of complaints have been made and considered by the ABAC Complaints Panel, headed by Chief Adjudicator Professor the Hon Michael Lavarch AO.

“These relate to alcohol marketing placed in a variety of media and, in all cases, the marketers met the restrictions, with only two ‘no fault’ Placement breaches due to the incorrect coding of content by the provider of an app/online game and an Instagram technical failure, resulting in an alcohol ad appearing in an under 18’s Instagram newsfeed. Importantly, action was taken by both the marketers and the media platforms to avoid a recurrence.”

Speaking regarding ABAC’s quarterly update, Mr Ferguson said that there had been a small number of content complaints upheld and that the offending adverts had subsequently been involved.

“As for Content complaints, three advertisements were found to have breached the Code and all have subsequently been withdrawn from the marketplace,” he said.

“A Heineken 3 Instagram post demonstrated how alcohol marketing cannot show alcohol as causing or contributing to the achievement of personal, social or sexual success.

“A Liquorland Spotify advertisement breached the standard requiring no suggestion that alcohol may create or contribute to a significant change in mood, offer a therapeutic benefit or be a necessary aid to relaxation.

“An in-store promotion for Moon Dog Brewery was found to have strong or evident appeal to under 18s.” Mr Ferguson said.

The report comes a week after ABAC’s annual report and review of its 2017 operations.

Mr Ferguson said: “2017 was an exciting year for ABAC with its standards for the content of alcohol marketing extended to also regulate where alcohol marketing can be placed.

“The new restrictions came into effect on 1 November 2017 to ensure alcohol marketing does not target under 18 year olds.

“We were also pleased to see that research on community expectations for alcohol marketing released in 2017 shows that community concerns about alcohol marketing are addressed within the ABAC Code standards and ABAC Panel decisions are generally more conservative than the community.”

The Scheme’s pre-vetting service checks alcohol ads prior to publication, with 1453 requests during 2017, and its complaints process assesses public complaints about alcohol marketing.

The report showed that the ABAC Adjudication Panel made 43 determinations relating to complaints received in 2017, with seven upheld and 36 dismissed. All marketing materials for upheld complaints were removed.

Mr Ferguson thanked members of the public for registering their concerns and he encouraged people to continue to do so. As well Mr Ferguson complimented the companies involved for their co-operation and their timely compliance with the complaints process and removal of offending material where required.