Portman Group issues online guidelines for booze brands

The Portman Group has published a guide that aims to stop alcohol brands using digital marketing to target underage consumers or encourage harmful drinking.

Drinks danger: The Portman Group guidance aims to discourage harmful levels of alcohol
Drinks danger: The Portman Group guidance aims to discourage harmful levels of alcohol consumption

The industry-funded body has published The Responsible Marketing of Alcoholic Drinks in Digital Media, which provides guidance on how to stay within the Portman Group’s existing codes and Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) regulations on online marketing.

The ASA currently regulates banner, display and paid-for ads, while the Portman Group’s Code of Practice sets minimum, mandatory standards for all other drinks producer marketing, including brand websites.

Current rules prevent, for example, companies from targeting under-18s or linking their products to social or sexual success.

The report includes information on the importance of age verification pages and the “boundaries of acceptability” surrounding user-generated content on brand websites.

Portman Group chief executive David Poley says he wants drinks producers’ online advertising to meet “the same high standards digitally” as in other areas of marketing despite the challenges “in identifying who is using digital media and how old they are”.

Digital marketing of alcohol brands has come under fire from MPs sitting on the House of Commons Health Committee this year, who have questioned how effective the current levels of regulation are.

The Portman Group guidelines also come ahead of possible changes to regulations governing online marketing.

Advertising industry policy group Digital Media Group is in advanced discussions with representatives from several industries that could lead to the ASA’s remit being extended to include the regulation of marketing communications on brand websites.

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