Advertisers are well aware that certain marketing communications are more sensitive than others and actively work to solve perceived problems in key areas.

Advertising is a fundamental part of everyday communications and touches upon some fields that are more sensitive than others, including marketing communications for alcoholic beverages, or ads targeted to children, for example.

This section provides an outline of the main advertising-related issues, together with details of legislation, either already adopted or proposed, to address the perceived problems. It also provides an overview of the ways in which advertising self-regulation has responded to the issues.

Ensuring responsible marketing communications for alcoholic beverages has been a long-standing priority for EASA’s self-regulatory network. 

While rejecting suggestions of a causal link between advertising for alcohol drinks and alcohol-related social problems, the alcohol beverage industry recognises the need for social responsibility in the sphere of commercial communications.

As with all advertising, regardless of sector, commercial communications by the alcohol 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.

Alcohol advertisements should also not encourage excessive or irresponsible consumption, present abstinence or moderation negatively, or suggest any link with violent, aggressive, dangerous or antisocial behaviour or an improvement of cognitive or sexual faculty.

The protection of vulnerable groups is another fundamental pillar of advertising self-regulation. Ads for alcoholic drinks should not be aimed at under-legal drinking age (LDA) viewers, should not show under LDA people consuming alcoholic beverages, and should not be placed in media or events where a majority of the audience is known to be under the legal drinking age.

  • EASA has worked closely with its members (both self-regulatory organisations and ad industry associations) to develop effective self-regulatory rules and ensure responsible commercial communication in this field;
  • EASA has contributed to ICC’s Framework for Responsible Alcohol Marketing Communications.
  • EASA has worked with the European Alcohol and Health Forum, a platform of stakeholders at the EU level who pledge to actively reduce alcohol-related harm;
  • EASA endorses the advertising principles of the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) and has worked with the Brewers of EuropeWine In Moderation, the Responsible Marketing Pact of the World Federation of Advertisers, and other sectoral organisations to ensure high ad standards in the alcohol industry across Europe;
  • EASA regularly coordinates monitoring exercises with self-regulatory organisations to check the compliance of advertisements of alcohol beverage industry brands. These exercises are crucial to the development of advertising practice and a useful training exercise for all the participants in the self-regulatory process.
  • In February 2021, the European Commission published its European Beating Cancer Plan, complemented in November 2021 by an Implementation Roadmap, which commits to reducing the exposure of young people to alcohol marketing through close monitoring of the implementation of the Audiovisual Media Service Directive. In a dedicated own-initiative report (February 2022), the European Parliament points out cancer’s alcohol-driven risks and the role of a healthy diet in cancer prevention, along with possible steps to improve information to consumers, commercial communications and sponsorship, and to protect children from commercial communication on alcohol and HFSS.