While rejecting suggestions of a causal link between advertising for alcoholic drinks and alcohol-related social problems, the alcoholic beverage industry recognises the need for social responsibility in the sphere of commercial communications.
The Brewers of Europe have partnered with EASA to evaluate the effectiveness of self-regulation of the beer sector of the alcohol industry. The report, “Responsible beer advertising through self-regulation”, was published in 2010 and reflects the progress made in the implementation of the commitment to the European Alcohol and Health forum in relation to the advertising self-regulation.
As well as participating in the European Commission’s Alcohol and Health Forum, the industry has undertaken various initiatives, both within individual companies and at European level. These include three sectoral codes:
The "Common Standards for Commercial Communications", published in 2005 by the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD, currently spiritsEUROPE) was modified in 2008 to update its provisions on digital media, which came into force in June 2009. The EFRD represents major beverage alcohol companies at European level and provides an industry forum for responsible drinking;
Across Europe, these standards (whose provisions are virtually identical) have been incorporated into almost all national self-regulatory codes of advertising practice. Below are some of the most important standards:
As with all advertising, regardless of sector, commercial communications by the alcoholic beverage industry should be legal, decent, honest and truthful and conform to accepted principles of fair competition and good business practice, prepared with a due sense of social responsibility and based on principles of fairness and good faith. They should not, under any circumstances, be unethical or otherwise impugn human dignity and integrity.
Advertisements for alcoholic drinks should not encourage excessive or irresponsible consumption, present abstinence or moderation in a negative way, or suggest any link with violent, aggressive, dangerous or antisocial behaviour.
Minors (i.e. young people below the legal age for drinking under national law)
Advertisements should not be specifically aimed at minors or show minors consuming alcoholic beverages. Advertisers should avoid media or events where a majority of the audience is known to be minors.
Advertisements should not associate drinking with driving a motor vehicle.
Advertisements should not create the impression that consumption of alcoholic drinks enhances mental ability or physical performance, e.g. when engaging in sports.
Advertisements should not create the impression that consumption of alcohol is a requirement for social or sexual success. Under no circumstances should they be unethical, offend against generally prevailing standards of taste and decency or otherwise impugn human dignity and integrity.
Levels of complaints
As a percentage of total complaints, those related to alcohol advertising are relatively low. The percentage increased from 2006 to 2007, from 0.44% to 1.00%. Between 2007 and 2008, the percentage dropped to 0.84%. See also the EASA Compliance Monitoring Reports on Alcohol.
At the request of the European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD, currently spiritsEUROPE) acting on behalf of the alcoholic beverage industry, EASA has coordinated several monitoring exercises with its SRO members. The alcoholic drinks industry regards these exercises as crucial to the development of best advertising practice and a useful training exercise for all the participants in the self-regulatory process.
Download reports here