New Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code

By AdNews | 18 July 2023
Wil Stewart via Unsplash.

The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) has recently been reviewed and strengthened to apply from August 1.

Key changes include stronger placement restrictions, including a higher adult audience requirement (80%) before an alcohol ad can be placed with a program, and greater restrictions around direct marketing to protect the vulnerable; an extension of the code to no and very low alcohol styled beverages; and clearer restrictions preventing alcohol being positioned as a coping mechanism or negatively portraying the choice to abstain.

ABAC chair Harry Jenkins said the new code will equip Australia’s Responsible Alcohol Marketing Scheme to address emerging concerns raised by the public through the complaints system.

“Packaging with soft drink and confectionery themes is an area that attracts public complaints as seen in recent determinations and the new code provides greater clarity and updates around the meaning of ‘strong or evident’," he said.

“Showing excess or rapid consumption of alcohol caused the majority of breaches last quarter and I urge marketers to move away from using these themes and images in their social media posts.

"The new code clarifies that excessive consumption is consumption inconsistent with the Australian Alcohol Guidelines set by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council. Often these themes are shown humourously, and the new code makes it very clear that treating excessive or rapid consumption as amusing is a clear breach of responsible alcohol marketing standards.

“The ABAC Panel continue to receive complaints about ads showing alcohol use before or during swimming. The community is concerned about this issue due to the increased risk associated with these activities after alcohol has been consumed and this continues as a key provision in the new code.

“ABAC complaints and determinations have seen a large increase while pre-vetting requests have seen a 10% decrease when compared with the same quarter last year.”

“ABAC Panel determinations provide helpful guidance to alcohol companies when developing ads and packaging, and 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."

ABAC’s Second Quarterly Report for 2023 detailing decisions made during the past quarter is available online

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