Alcohol brands and social platforms join forces to prevent irresponsible advertising

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) has pledged to improve targeted social media advertising to prevent alcohol ads reaching the wrong audience.

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) is partnering with social media sites to encourage responsible alcohol advertising that doesn’t target minors or those that don’t want to receive it.

A group of 11 leading beer, wine and spirits producers, including AB InBev, Bacardi, Carlsberg Group, Diageo and Pernod Ricard will work with Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube to help prevent irresponsible advertising.

The IARD has set out three major commitments: to ensure the most-up-to-date safeguards are put in place to prevent minors from seeing ads for alcohol; to explore changes that would further reduce the chances of underage people seeing such advertising; and find ways to provide people with greater control over whether they see alcohol ads via opt-out mechanisms.

President of the IARD, Henry Ashworth, tells Marketing Week: “This is for two audiences: one is marketers as we want to make it as easier for them to do the right thing; the second is consumers as we want to put them in control and allow them to stop receiving alcohol advertising if that’s not what they want.”

This unique partnership will ensure social media platforms are empowering their users to make decisions about the advertising they do and don’t want to see.

Syl Saller, Diageo

IARD members will be working with the social media partners through workshops to encourage collaboration and learning across brands.

Ashworth explains: “First and foremost we are making sure that the tools in place are not only being used but are used consistently. We are also figuring out where there is room for improvement and enabling one platform to learn from another.

“We chose to work in partnership with social media brands rather than openly criticising them as we believe this is more effective. We think our announcement signals a big step to change in terms of two big sectors coming together to empower and protect consumers.”

Syl Saller, Diageo’s CMO, adds: “Consumer choice is at the heart of a responsible digital environment and this unique partnership will ensure social media platforms are empowering their users to make decisions about the advertising they do and don’t want to see, creating a better digital experience for everyone.”

The fact big global alcohol businesses are supporting the move will also help encourage smaller, independent players in the category to follow best practice, according to Ashworth.

“Those brands all work with hundreds of agencies on hundreds of campaign so they have a huge impact. Also, beyond that if there is a degree of inconsistency among the 11 biggest alcohol brands, it will confuse the many thousands of smaller alcohol businesses,” he explains.

The organisation is keen to communicate the news to as many consumers as possible both through social media but also in print – having taken out a full-page ad in the Times.

The IARD published its first digital guiding principles in 2014, and has been working since last year to update these, it a move its members say is providing leadership where traditional regulation is limited.

Ashworth adds: “We are doing what governments can’t do because it cuts across markets and boundaries and is very fast moving.”