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Portman alcohol sponsorship code takes effect

Published:  03 February, 2014

Drinks producers have signed up to the UK's first alcohol sponsorship code governing sports, music and cultural events.

The code introduces a new and binding commitment for all drinks producers to promote responsible drinking through their sponsorship agreements.

The Sponsorship Code carries clear sanctions - producers risk significant reputational damage if they breach it both through negative publicity and the financial cost of having to renegotiate a sponsorship agreement or having to withdraw it completely.

Leading sports, arts and venues organisations, including the England and Wales Cricket Board, Football Association, Rugby Football Union, Rugby Football League, and the Premier League, have all endorsed the new code.

Examples of the drinks industry's brand sponsorships include

  • As the brewer of Stella Artois, AB InBev will use an online tool to ensure that bar staff are trained in responsible service at The Open Championship.
  • Through Diageo's Guinness DRINKiQ programme, rugby players will be educated about the short and long term effects of excessive drinking.
  • Pernod Ricard's Jacob's Creek sponsorship of Wimbledon will see responsible drinking messages feature on promotional materials.
  • SHS Drinks using advertising space at the Rockness Festival in Scotland to encourage responsible drinking.

Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: "This is another important gear change in partnership working to promote responsible drinking. I am pleased that the new code has been endorsed by the UK's leading sports and music bodies. Alcohol companies will have a binding commitment to promote responsible drinking - this represents an intelligent evolution of a highly respected code and shows that we are constantly raising the bar when it comes to responsible alcohol marketing."

Public Health Minister, Jane Ellison MP, said: "It's important that all in industry, from alcohol producers to sports and cultural venues, do all they can to promote responsible drinking. I am pleased to see strong support for the new Alcohol Sponsorship Code from industry, sport and music bodies. The code will help to make sure that alcohol is not promoted to anyone aged under eighteen."

Tim Lamb, chief executive of the Sport and Recreation Alliance, said: "The Sport and Recreation Alliance strongly supports this new sponsorship code which was developed with input from our member sports governing bodies. We are determined that alcohol sponsorship arrangements are undertaken responsibly and with adequate safeguards to protect the public. As well as promoting responsible drinking at sponsored events, brand sponsorship provides vital funding which assist national governing bodies  to fund  grassroots programmes and youth development structures."

The Sponsorship Code, best practice examples and a guidance note can be downloaded from