Influencer and PR pledge by ABA

Alcohol Beverages Australia has signed up to an international agreement to ensure responsible alcohol marketing by PR companies and influencers.

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) has launched the global pledge, partnering with 13 advertising, public relations and influencer agencies to ensure marketing is responsibly advertised. It also pledged to promote the understanding of responsible drinking for those who choose to drink.

The pledge itself covers numerous aspects of alcohol marketing, some of which are covered in Australia by the Alcohol Beverage Advertising Code (ABAC), mandating that marketing activities should not make health claims, promote excessive consumption, associate alcohol with social or sexual success or encourage underage drinking. Additionally, it bans the negative portrayal of abstinence.

Also under the pledge, producers and advertisers commit to conducting diligence on influencers including age restriction practices, an issue which the anti-alcohol lobby in Australia has been raising recently.

Companies will be required to incorporate these pledges into their contracts and practices, as well as undertake due diligence and auditing of influencers and campaigns.

Amongst the signatories are Asahi and Kirin, owners of Australia’s biggest breweries, as well as Carlsberg, Diageo, AB InBev, Molson Coors and Heineken. Marketing companies that have signed up include global agencies McCann and Havas.

Challengers of influencer marketing

In recent months, a number of ABAC rulings have highlighted the issues surrounding both influencers and public relations firms in Australia.

Beer brands such as Bloke in a Bar and Victoria Bitter have been held to account for using models, influencers and personalities under the age of 25 in their marketing and social media either directly or through reposts, which is banned by ABAC.

There have also been difficulties around the role of third party PR and marketing companies, with ABAC adjudications made recently on online publication articles which were similar to press releases, although news media itself is not considered under ABAC.

“We strongly support the work undertaken by both ABAC and IARD and encourage our own Australian marketers within the industry to become acquainted with the standards and ensure any future engagement with influencers is compliant,” said ABA chief executive officer Andrew Wilsmore.

“Drinks companies are responsible for ensuring compliance to alcohol marketing codes of their own marketing materials, but also when engaging influencers or using other third parties such as Public Relations agencies,” he continued.

The announcement comes following the news yesterday that Asahi Beverages, Endeavour Group and Coles Liquor have resigned membership of the organisation.

An Endeavour Group spokesperson confirmed the move.

“With Retail Drinks Australia (as our retail industry representative) being an ABA member as well, there is a duplication of services, resources and investment which we needed to address.

“This decision has not been made lightly and has been a result of identifying the new resources and memberships required to meet the new requirements of Endeavour Group as a newly listed entity”,” they said.

Asahi meanwhile is already part of the Alcohol Beverages Australia membership as a member of the Brewers Association.

“Asahi Beverages has decided to discontinue our membership of ABA. We’ll be focussing instead on our other very extensive and diverse industry partnerships,” an Asahi spokesperson said.

“We acknowledge and respect their decision, and we will continue to focus on representing our membership accordingly,” said ABA’s Wilsmore.

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