Advertising Standards

Advertising Standards and Self-Regulation


What we believe


We believe that commercial communication is essential for fair competition and a free consumer choice.  Our members encourage responsible decision making regarding drinking by adults, fully accept consumer choice not to drink, and discourage the inappropriate and excessive consumption of their products. 


Adoption of EU-guidelines


The first set of self-regulation rules where adopted by the spirits sector in the 1990s and have been updated regularly since  to meet consumer expectations and technical developments in the area of commercial communications (e.g, digital communication, social media, etc.). The latest version was adopted in April 2012: EU-wide Guidelines for the development of responsible marketing communications.


The guidelines are designed to assist our members conduct the advertising and marketing of their products in accordance with the above principles.  They come as an addition to the general principles of responsible marketing communications covered in the ICC Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice.


About the new guidelines


The guidelines are an unprecedented effort of the whole sector to achieve the same understanding of what constitutes responsible commercial communications.  Adopting pan-sectoral, pan-European guidelines as a single reference point are a vital part of that process.  However, they do not replace existing national regulatory standards, but provide reference criteria for the development and future amendment of national and sectoral self-Reguatory codes applicable to marketing communications for spirits drinks.


They put a specific emphasis on digital and social media, rationalise different standards in Europe into one single reference document, enshrine the spirits sector’s commitment to deliver responsible drinking messages in all its marketing communications and underline the spirits sector’s commitment to promote responsible consumption of product to adults only.  In addition they gather several recently revised regional, national and company codes, standards and guidelines into a single sector-wide reference publication and serve as reference criteria for the development and future amendment of national self-regulatory codes applicable to marketing communications for spirits drinks across Europe.


Compliance, implementation and monitoring 


In order to ease compliance, an online training scheme has been developed via In addition, a training roadshow is organised every year since 2012  in several EU Capitals with marketing professionals to ensure rules are understood and properly implemented (part of our commitment to EAHF - see full report).


Control mechanisms are in place to help ensure that marketing communications for alcoholic drinks reaching the market are compliant with the provisions set out in the guidelines.  In case of doubts regarding compliance of an alcohol marketing communication project, advertisers should seek copy advice from the local Self-Reguatory Organisation either directly or through, an online portal to reach SROs which allows advertisers, agencies and media to seek copy advice when available. 


Since 2005, the industry has commissioned compliance monitoring report on TV & Print advertsing (2005, 2006, 20072008), as well as on pop-up,  banners and branded websites but also on the implementation of the 70/30 rule for minors. A new Compliance Monitoring Report on Digital Media is expected in 2014 (as part of the Marketing Pact project led by the World Federation of Advertisers).


Until now, the level of compliance on self-regulation rules has always been above 90%. The reports have been reviewed by an independent review panel composed of relevant stakeholders such as NGO, member of the European Economic & Social Committee and Youth representatives. Last but not least, an analysis of each report was done by the SROs over a day training session to constantly improve/harmonise enforcement of SR rules across Europe.


What happens in the case of non-compliance?


Self-Regulatory Organisations deal with local complaints.  In case of cross border complaints, an appropriate mechanism is in place at the European Advertising Standards Alliance (a non-profit organisation which brings together national advertising SROs and organisations representing the advertising industry in Europe and beyond).


Related links


  • The International Code Council (ICC) Code of Advertising and Marketing Communication Practice.
  • European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA): an organisation which brings together national advertising self-regulatory organisations (SROs) and organisations representing the advertising industry in Europe and beyond.
  • ClearCast: International copy advise / pre-clearance facility to check your ads
  • G-Regs: International database with legislation & self-regulation on advertising across the world (incl. alcohol) 
  • Market Responsibly website: how to create responsible marketing communications for alcoholic beverages.