ABAC releases recent code breach decisions
ABAC, Australia’s quasi-regulatory responsible alcohol marketing code, receives public complaints about alcohol marketing via Ad Standards. Complaints that raise ABAC Code issues are considered by the independent ABAC Adjudication Panel. This alert notifies of recent Panel decisions that found alcohol marketing communications in breach of the ABAC standards.
The final quarter of 2023 concluded the transition to the new revised ABAC Code. All complaints received from 1 January 2024 will be considered against the new Code which is available on our website. We encourage everyone who is involved in the marketing of alcohol to complete the one hour free online training course which has been updated to reflect the new provisions – available here.
Tradie Beer Instagram Video
The Panel found that a video made by Tickford Racing as a parody of The Hangover movie and shared to Tradie Beer’s social media pages breaches the Code by:
- showing consumption inconsistent with the Australian Guidelines to Reduce Health Risks from Drinking Alcohol; and
- showing, encouraging, or treating as amusing, rapid Alcohol consumption, misuse or abuse of Alcohol or other irresponsible or offensive behaviour that is related to the consumption or presence of Alcohol.
The Company removed the video from its social media pages.
The Panel believes that the Grog website has strong or evident appeal to minors due to:
- having an overall design which would be considered playful, fun and engaging to minors rather than mature with a clearly adult focus;
- the cute and amorphous drawings of fruit, which in some instances are walking and/or waving, in a cartoon style that are reminiscent of characters from children’s media;
- the use of cartoonish font and swirling block colours, which could be appealing to minors; and
- taken as a whole, a reasonable person would probably understand the website as having evident appeal to minors beyond the general appeal it has to an adult.
The Company has undertaken to modify its website.
Island Mist Guilt Free Seltzer Packaging and Digital Marketing
The Panel found that the product packaging, use of the term “Guilt Free” in the Company’s social media handles and account names and website copy using the words “…healthier alcoholic option” and “an easy drinking, low calorie, sugar free experience with all the flavour and none of the bad stuff!” all breach the Code.
In reaching this conclusion the Panel noted:
- a reasonable person would conclude from the website copy that the Company’s alcoholic beverages offer therapeutic benefits, are relatively beneficial for a person’s health or wellbeing and do not have the adverse side effects of alcohol consumption;
- the packaging information hierarchy highlights the descriptor “guilt free” over all other branding elements and this descriptor would be probably understood as meaning that the product can be consumed without any negative consequences;
- the subordinate packaging references to the product being gluten, sugar and preservative free would not likely alter the overall understanding that the product has no negative consequences; and
- this goes beyond a comparison of the product’s attributes to an “ordinary” alcohol beverage and would probably be understood as claiming it is relatively beneficial in health terms compared to alternate products.
The advertiser has advised that it will remove the term “Guilt Free” from its marketing communications and discontinue the packaging.
VodkaPRO Social Media Marketing
Of the four social media images referenced in the complaint, the Panel found that one goes beyond a factual statement and claims the product provides the therapeutic benefit of the “power of protein and collagen”.
Further, the Company’s Instagram feed was not age restricted at the time of the complaint and accordingly the Company was in breach of Part 4 (b).
The Company removed reference to the “power of protein and collagen” and also implemented age restriction controls on its Instagram and Facebook accounts.
Milky Lane Social Media Posts
The Panel found that three social media posts for Frosty Fruit Cocktails, Milky Bar Milo Espresso Martinis and Strawberries & Cream Shots had strong or evident appeal to minors
The Panel noted:
- the images of the cocktails are bright and eye-catching;
- Milo remains a popular and well known drink for minors and the confectionery items would be entirely familiar to minors given the common presence of the products in supermarkets and other retail stores;
- the combination of the product names and imagery (Frosty Fruits, Milky Bar, Milo and Strawberries & Cream) creates an illusion of a smooth transition from a non-alcohol product to an alcohol beverage;
- the text does not unambiguously establish the cocktails are alcoholic in nature; and
- taken as a whole a reasonable person would probably understand the marketing would have evident appeal to minors.
The Company has agreed to remove the posts.