ASA calls for more control over alcohol ads on Net

Calls for tighter controls on online alcohol advertising have been renewed at this week’s Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) stakeholder consultation on the effectiveness of self regulation on the drinks industry.

The calls coincide with an ASA ruling this week against an online football game, created by Coors Brewers. It upheld complaints against the game because it would appeal to under 18 year olds, while also directing players to the Carling lager website.

The ASA ruled that the “Against the Wall” football game required a relatively low level of skill and considered that its content was likely to appeal to children.

The free game was available on IPC Media-owned website Mousebreaker, which has a core 18- to 44-year-old male audience. But the ASA noted that almost 30% of Mousebreaker’s users are under the age of 16, and ruled that the Coors’ game was directed at under 18 year olds “through its selection of media”.

At the ASA stakeholder event, the chief executive of Alcohol Focus in Scotland, Jack Law, pointed to “messages” posted on the official Facebook page of Diageo-owned Smirnoff as an example of alcohol being actively promoted on social networking sites.

Diageo marketing director Philip Almond defended the alcohol industry and also the company’s attempts at corporate social responsibility. The drinks giant was the first alcohol producer to launch a responsible drinking advertising campaign last year, he said.

Speakers at the event, including ASA chairman Chris Smith and the industry regulator’s director-general, Christopher Graham, added that advertising is only “one aspect” of the binge-drinking problem, and that it can play a part in the solution of that problem.

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