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Alcohol Advisory Council On Advertising Rules

Press Release
Alcohol Advisory Council

Friday 1 August 2003

The Alcohol Advisory Council says the tightening of the rules governing liquor advertising will enable greater scrutiny and control over advertising that targets young people.

The clarification of the definition of what constitutes a liquor advertisement will also allow monitoring of other forms of liquor promotion such as signage and, potentially clothing, says ALAC Chief Executive Officer Dr Mike MacAvoy.

The Advertising Standards Authority has just completed a review of liquor advertising standards. Their report was released at midday today. (Friday August 1).

“World wide there is emerging evidence of a link between alcohol advertising and the drinking culture in a country – particularly the drinking culture of the young,” Dr MacAvoy says. “While the evidence is not completely unequivocal, ALAC believes we need to take a cautious approach to any liberalisation of the rules.

“This was the main thrust of our submissions, and we are pleased to see the majority of our recommendations have been taken on board by the review panel.”

Dr MacAvoy said the advertising code has been given teeth through two new provisions.

ALAC’s national guidelines on the “Naming, Packaging and Merchandising of Alcoholic Beverages” are to be incorporated into the code.

“This is a great move and will add extra ammunition in our fight to ensure liquor advertising does not target the young,” Dr MacAvoy says.

These guidelines prevent advertisers using images that appeal to minors; confuse liquor with confectionery or soft drinks; lead to confusion about the alcoholic nature and /or strength of the product; or draw any association with drug culture or mimic shapes that are predominately associated with anti social or dangerous behaviour.

“In addition, making it mandatory for all liquor advertisements to observe a high standard of social responsibility will enable the Advertising Standards Complaints Board to better deal with advertisements that appeal to young people.”

Dr MacAvoy says the review did not accept ALAC’s call for the start time for liquor advertising on television be moved back from the current 9pm start time to 9.30pm.

The panel noted adult viewing on television began at 8.30pm and in the light of the tightening up in the other areas of the Code they did not view this move to 8.30pm as a liberalisation.

“We are disappointed but can understand the logic behind this move. More importantly, we are pleased the panel rejected any further relaxing of hours, rejecting calls for liquor advertising during live to air or delayed sporting broadcasts and during the news from 6pm to 7pm.”

Dr MacAvoy welcomed the panel’s call for collaboration between Government agencies, industry and health groups to produce pertinent and relevant research on the relationship between liquor advertising and liquor abuse.

“This is something we accept and here at ALAC we believe we are well placed to take a lead role in promoting interagency research.”

Dr MacAvoy also welcomed the panel’s recommendation for industry members, government agencies and health groups to work with their Australian counterparts to determine the desirability of harmonising the Liquor Code and producing one Code for both countries.

ENDS

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