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Drinks producers to strengthen ad standards across Europe

Published:  16 April, 2012

Major alcoholic drinks producers have agreed to ramp up their voluntary advertising regulations in Europe.

AB InBev, Bacardi, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg, Diageo, Heineken, Pernod Ricard and SAB Miller, which together represent the majority of alcohol advertising spend within Europe, will strengthen their self-regulation schemes with a set of European-wide standards.

The Responsible Marketing Pact will cover common standards for responsible advertising and marketing and will be independently monitored.

On the social media front the pact will boost standards on age controls, Facebook sponsored stories, user-generated content and sharing/forwarding functionality. It will take the form of a common baseline standard that ads may only be placed in media where at least 70% of the audience is reasonably expected to be above legal purchase age.

The pact will also ensure that the ads appeal primarily to adults. Once the standards have been incorporated into self-regulatory codes, they will be policed through public naming and shaming, the requirement to amend/retract ads, mandatory pre-clearance for future campaigns, and referral to the competent national regulatory authorities in cases of repeat offences.

It is thought that the proposed standards are already covered by UK advertising codes, so it is expected that producers will not have to make many changes here, although introducing age restrcition on Facebook pages may be suggested. It is likely to be policed by the ISBA, the Portman Group and the Advertising Standards Authority.

The pact is a "commitment" by the World Federation of Advertisers and the companies to the European Alcohol and Health Forum, the flagship programme of the EU Alcohol Strategy.