New global standards for influencers

September 14, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

The International Alliance for Responsible Drinking has partnered with thirteen leading international advertising, public relations, and influencer agencies and launched its new new global standards pledge for influencer marketing. 

The pledge commits to ensure that alcohol marketing by social influencers is clearly recognised, responsibly advertised, and aimed at an audience over the legal purchase age.

As a part of the pledge, content producers and advertisers have undertaken a commitment to conduct diligence on influencers engaged to promote their products, including the use of age-affirmation technology on platforms when available, and to promoting a better understanding of responsible alcohol consumption, for those who choose to drink. 

Henry Ashworth, IARD president and CEO, said, “This is a world-first initiative in raising collective standards of responsibility across multiple digital channels, and we call on our partners in the alcohol, advertising and influencer industries to join us in our ongoing work to ensure that alcohol marketing across all forms of media is responsible.

“This is a major step in preventing minors from seeing any alcohol marketing and IARD is proud to have united the world’s leading agencies to help raise global standards.”

With the value of influencer marketing expected to reach US$13.8 billion by the end of this year (Influencer Marketing Hub Benchmark Report 2021), the producers and advertisers have laid out measures to regulate their partnerships.

In addition to the pledge, the companies involved have created a set of five safeguards that apply to influencers working with alcohol brands, and a set of tools and videos to guide the content creation of brands and influencers.

Albert Baladi, president and CEO of Beam Suntory and chair of IARD CEO Group, said: “These standards directly address some of the biggest concerns facing the marketing community right now. By offering more transparency and giving those at the heart of content creation the correct tools to safeguard their content, we are able to expand on the significant progress and marketing codes of practice already in place to ensure that these posts do not reach minors or encourage any kind of irresponsible consumption.”

Alcohol Beverages Australia (ABA) has welcomed the pledge. CEO Andrew Wilsmore said that it reinforces the industry’s commitment to supporting responsible drinking and complements the existing requirements of Australian marketers set by the ABAC Responsible Alcohol Marketing Code.

“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,” Mr Wilsmore said.

As well as the pledge, the move to formalise safeguards for influencer marketing includes: 

  • A set of five specific safeguards that apply to any content involving influencers who work with the leading beer, wine, and spirits producers 
  • Tools and videos that support all alcohol brands and influencers to follow robust responsible marketing practices when creating content 
  • Clear commitments to market responsibly, including not making health claims, promoting illegal or excessive consumption, or positioning abstinence negatively

This work builds on ongoing actions by the Australian drinks industry to implement safeguards for alcohol advertising online, including the Digital Guiding Principles and partnerships with YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat to improve age screening, enabling users to opt out of alcohol marketing, and allowing content creators to age-gate posts.

In July, ABAC urged alcohol marketers to engage with influencers now that Instagram is on par with Facebook in allowing age restriction of individual posts, ie: influencers (who must be over 25 years of age) can ‘age restrict’ posts promoting an alcohol brand. ABAC placement rules require available age restriction controls to be applied.

In January, the IARD formed a coalition with online retailers and delivery platforms to establish a global standard for the online sale and delivery of alcoholic beverages.

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