Alcohol brands beef up social media regulation

The European Forum for Responsible Drinking (EFRD) and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) have collaborated to create a common set of principles for alcohol brands using social media.

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Alcohol brands wanting to use social networks, blogs, mobile apps and user generated content will have to follow new guidelines, set out by the organisations in Europe and the US, from 30 September.

The guidelines will focus on consistent age checking across social media, enforce regular monitoring of brands social media pages and the removal of inappropriate content and ensuring that European drinks brands report back on commitments to prove the effectiveness of the self regulation model.

Alan Butler, Chairman of the EFRD, which represents major spirits brands including Diageo, Pernod Ricard, Moet Hennessy, Bacardi, Beam Global Spirits and Wine and Brown Forman, says: “Digital marketing is becoming increasingly important in our engagement with consumers. These new guidelines will ensure that we apply the same high standards to all new media channels and technologies such as Mobile applications or social media platforms such as Facebook.”

EFRD will now launch a European road show to promote the guidelines and has invited UK alcohol regulatory organization Portman Group to head up the initiative.

In the UK The Portman Group has had guidelines for alcohol brands on social media since 2009 and the Advertising Standards Association expanded its CAP Code last year to include social media, making its alcohol regulations also applicable in the expanded remit.

Current CAP code rules, however, do not require a responsible drinking message and do not restrict access to Facebook pages.

David Poley chief executive of the Portman Group, said, “The Portman Group started regulating online alcohol marketing back in 2003 when we recognised how important the digital arena would become within the marketing mix. We have built up considerable expertise in this area and introduced detailed guidelines in 2009. We also provide training and best practice guidelines for drinks companies in this area.”

A spokesman for the ASA, said, “We welcome any initiative by industry to put guidelines in place around responsible marketing/promotion of alcohol. There are some aspects of the guidance that go beyond what is required by the CAP Code so, from an ASA perspective, we would only expect marketers to ensure they comply with the strict alcohol advertising rules.”

One issue picked up by the expanded ASA remit is the use of Facebook’s Sponsored Stories ad formats by alcohol brands. The ad formats use information including user images within ad creative, which potentially breaks the ASA guideline to prevent people who look under age appearing in alcohol ad creative.

This story first appeared on New Media Age. For more digital stories and analysis’ from NMA click here now

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