ABAC eyes social media and pre-vetting

The body responsible for overseeing complaints about alcohol advertising has released its 2018 Annual Report advising social media platforms and pre-vetting services were an increased focus for 2019.

Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme Chair Harry Jenkins said that with 2018 being the first full year of its new placement rules, the results showed that marketers still haven’t come to terms with social media best practice.

The report highlighted that several marketers are still using social media influencers under the age of 25 in their online campaigns. Brands included XXXX Summer Bright Lager, 5 Seeds Cider, Wilde Beer, Alby Beer and Furphy Beer. They were all found in breach of this rule.

ABAC has since updated its Digital Best Practice Guides and Guidance Notes to further educate marketers.

Introduced in November 2017, the new placement rules relate to the placement of alcohol advertising and complement other media-specific codes.

ABAC’s key placement rules outline where a marketing communication or ad may be placed on television and online. The placement rules aim to protect minors as media platforms continue to emerge, grow and change, and even extend to electronic direct mail.

The placement rules require marketers to utilise, where available, age restriction controls to exclude minors from the audience. The rules also require that advertisers only place an ad where the audience is reasonably expected to comprise at least 75 per cent adults. An ad must not be placed in programs or content primarily aimed at minors.

Jenkins said that ABAC will continue to monitor the new placement rules as trends start to appear.

“We’re starting to see the trends there and understand any of the things we’ve got to concentrate on,” Jenkins explained.

He said that the watchdog’s 2019 focus will be the various social media platforms that alcohol-industry players employ. Jenkins said one of ABAC’s main focuses will be on trying to remain across the various platforms and the ways in which they are being used.

“The new emerging platforms are the ones that we want to make sure we understand and then to make sure that the changing nature of the industry – the rise of the new waves of independence and people like that – that they understand the big picture about what we need, the outcomes we need to make sure there’s no further pressure on the industry,” he explained.

“We want to try to keep ahead of the curve to make sure that we have an understanding of what’s happening with that form of marketing and make sure that the people that are using that form of marketing are aware of the obligations that we have on them in marketing alcohol.

“That’s certainly something we’ve emphasised.”

Jenkins said that ABAC was also focusing on the importance of pre-vetting.

Of the 1,751 pre-vetting requests made in 2018, 228 were rejected by the ABAC Panel. This is compared with 1,453 requests in 2017, of which 198 were rejected.

“We’d just encourage that people that are not signatories to the code, that they avail themselves to the pre-vetting service because the indication is through the figures in the report but where marketing is pre-vetted there have not been complaints that have been upheld in the last couple of years,” Jenkins explained.

“We think that that’s important.

“Let’s nip things in the bud before there are any real problems.

“For new players that’s one of the best ways that they can understand the structures that we have in the code to ensure that marketing is done sensibly.”

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