ABAC’s 2018 Annual Report has revealed five bottle shop breaches of its guidelines in 2018.
The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Scheme (ABAC) is the body responsible for overseeing complaints about alcohol advertising.
During 2018 the panel made 21 determinations that upheld public complaints about alcohol marketing communications.
Six of them related to bottle shop promotions.
1. A Liquorland advertisement on Spotify contained an “awkward moment” where a person said something when the surrounding party fell silent. Alcohol was then introduced in response to the embarrassing scenario with the tagline “We’ve got a drink for that at Liquorland”. ABAC found that the reasonable implication was that alcohol consumption will be an aid in overcoming the tense moment. In response, the advertisement was withdrawn.
2. Moon Dog Brewery held an in-store bottle shop promotion that was found to strongly appeal to children, as it included a inflatable palm tree reminiscent of children’s toys and a frisbee. The promotion was removed.
3. Charlie’s Liquor Barn ran a series of Facebook posts depicting people aged under 25 (which contravenes ABAC standards). The posts were found to promote excessive consumption or alcohol as a cause of change in mood. The advertiser removed the posts upon notification of the complaint. The advertiser also followed up with i98FM radio to ensure the ABAC standards are followed when promoting the company’s business.
4. My Bottleshop was the subject of a complaint that an email marketing communication encouraged excessive consumption. The ABAC panel found the marketing in breach of standards by referring to the product as a “Mega Can” and a “massive 500ml hit”, encouraging excessive consumption. Including a statement that the product in a mega can is “perfect for long drives” was found to encourage alcohol consumption while in control of a motor vehicle. The advertiser removed the advertising upon notification of the complaint. The brand owner of Jack Daniels was unaware of the advertising and did not approve it.
5. Premix King was subject to two complaints. The first related to advertisements on the retailer Facebook page focussing on cheap alcohol, which were found to encourage excess consumption of alcohol and irresponsible behaviour, had strong or evident appeal to young people and had no age restriction controls in place. The posts have been removed and the Facebook page has since been age restricted. Two other Facebook posts were in breach of the ABAC standards by using as a key selling point an emphasis of alcohol strength and/or the number of standard drinks per serving and the intoxicating effect of the product through language such as ‘really packs a [punch emoji]’, plus using messages such as ‘let’s send off summer with one last big one’ when combined with other messaging and graphics which endorsed consumption levels in excess of Australian Alcohol Guidelines.
Aside from bottle shop breaches, there was one in the on-premise. Spirit Bar & Louge Traralgon was the subject of a complaint that a Facebook post promoting a healthy cocktail range encouraged excess consumption by suggesting customers can avoid a hangover and advertises the alcohol drink as healthy. The panel found that the post was in breach of the ABAC standards by referencing the ‘new spirit bar healthy cocktail range’ and stating it will ‘keep you hydrated all night’ and will ‘avoid the hangover the next day’ which implied excessive consumption of the product together with a therapeutic benefit from consuming the product. The advertiser removed the post upon notification of the complaint.
ABAC’s vetting service proves effective
ABAC has an Alcohol Advertising Pre-Vetting Service that provides confidential advice to marketers on whether proposed alcohol marketing communications comply with the Code.
This service is offered on a ‘user pays’ basis. AAPS pre-vetters approve, reject or suggest modification to material submitted to them for pre-vetting.
The AAPS Service is available to both signatories and non-signatories to the Code and there was a good uptake of the service by non-signatories at 17% of all requests in 2018.
“The importance of the ABAC Pre-vetting Service is highlighted by the fact that none of the content breaches outlined in this report or in fact over the past two years involved marketing or packaging that had been pre-vetted under ABAC. ” explained Harry Jenkins, Chair of the ABAC Management Committee.
“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.”