Commercial communications are essential for fair competition and a free consumer choice. In a mature market, its purpose is to differentiate among individual branded products to increase their market share. Most of the literature to date does not point to a significant causal link between advertising and alcohol consumption, let alone harmful consumption (see advertising factsheet & biography - November 2016). The determinants of individual behaviour are difficult to establish, but it is agreed that the factors are numerous and their interrelation complex.
However, always displaying adults in moderate and convivial drinking occasions in spirits ads is our contribution to creating positive social norms.
Selling alcohol beverages to persons under the legal purchase age (LPA) is prohibited in the EU. Intentionally directing alcohol beverages advertising to people under the legal purchase age (LPA) is rightfully prohibited already. A balanced and proportionate policy mix ensures that in practice alcohol beverages advertising is 1) not primarily appealing to minors in its content, 2) not targeted to minors by its placement. On social media, robust age-affirmation mechanisms were developed to ensure our advertising is only seen and interacted with by consumers over the legal purchase age. When looking at advertising influence on minors drinking behaviour, many scientific studies conclude that parental education and peer pressure are the key influential factors.
Advertising and marketing practices are constantly evolving, and it is essential to adapt the rules accordingly and to train marketers and the advertising agencies to keep pace of technological development. To this aim, spiritsEUROPE developed a set of guidelines for responsible marketing communications ( with rules on content and placement of commercial communications to assist marketing professionals in the implementation of the laws, regulations and self-regulatory codes of practice. The latest edition of the Guidelines including standards for the use of social influencers in alcohol marketing was published in February 2022.
To further compliance with self-regulation rules, spiritsEUROPE worked for many years on comprehensive face-to-face training programme. Training helps advertisers understand and use the robust solutions offered by social media platforms to ensure commercial communications are served to adults only. Facebook for example via its registered user database and age-gating system, ensures that alcohol brands pages, and comments, shares, like on these are simply invisible to minors in this environment. Similar safeguard exists on other platforms and in September 2018, leading beer, wine, and spirits producers have joined forces with some of the world’s prominent digital platforms ( Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter and YouTube) to set and deliver new and robust standards of responsibility for their wider industries (see here).
The Self-Regulatory Organisations are monitoring and regulating advertising practice on a daily-basis and EASA (the umbrellas organisation) publishes annual report on their activities, including on cross border complaints.