The Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) has revealed there were a record number of breaches by drinks companies in the final quarter of 2019. Among the 22 ABAC breaches, seven were by Pirate Life.
The advertising watchdog has warned brands to closely monitor their packaging and social media posts.
“Unusually, this quarter saw a number of breaches related to marketing that implied it is acceptable to consume alcohol before undertaking activities that require a high degree of alertness or physical co-ordination, such as swimming, cycling and driving,” ABAC chairman Harry Jenkins said.
“Alcohol consumption in conjunction with these activities is inconsistent with the intent of the Code.
“Other breaches this quarter included packaging that was found to have strong or evident appeal to minors, including potential confusion with soft drink or confectionary products.”
ABAC has published an Alcohol Packaging Compliance Guide which Jenkins urged alcohol manufacturers to read.
ABAC also noted that a number of complaints related to social media posts that were several years old.
“It is important to audit a brand’s entire digital marketing presence, particularly when purchasing a new brand,” it said in its quarterly report.
Jenkins added: “It is important that agencies and staff developing social media for alcohol producers, distributors and retailers are familiar with ABAC standards and understand the need to market alcohol responsibly.
“While social media is still a relatively new area of marketing, it is well enough established that marketers should be complying with ABAC rules. The ABAC website is a good place to start. It includes resources that can assist, including detailed Guidance Notes and a Best Practice Guide for Digital Alcohol Marketing.”
Among the ABAC breaches by Adelaide brewer Pirate Life were Pirate Life Iced Coffee Milkshake, with the complaint stating that an Instagram post and branding will appeal to minors and associates the beer with a soft drink (Farmers Union Iced Coffee) through the name, colour and style of beer.
The ABAC standard is that alcohol marketing cannot have strong or evident appeal to minors or create confusion with a soft drink.
ABAC upheld the complaint and the post was removed.
Pirate Life IIPA attracted a complaint that an Instagram post suggested circus tricks in an accompanying video were performed after consuming a few cans of beer.
The ABAC standard is that alcohol marketing cannot show or directly imply the consumption of alcohol before or during an activity that, for safety reasons, requires a high degree of alertness or physical co-ordination.
The complaint was upheld and the company removed the posts found to breach the ABAC standard.
A further complaint said Instagram posts by a social media influencer promoting Pirate Life include images of a can of Pirate Life being held in the water by someone swimming underwater near a shark.
ABAC found that the use of alcohol in conjunction with inherently dangerous activities was undesirable and inconsistent with the intent of the ABAC standard. The posts were removed.
In another complaint, Facebook posts by a professional wakeboarder sponsored by and promoting Pirate Life include images of a man under the age of 25, promote drinking and wakeboarding or boating and promote excessive drinking.
The ABAC standard is that alcohol marketing cannot show, directly imply or encourage excessive or rapid consumption or misuse of alcohol; depict an adult under 25 years of age; or show or directly imply the consumption of alcohol before or during an activity that, for safety reasons, requires a high degree of alertness or physical co-ordination.
The posts have been removed.
A further complaint regarded Youtube videos and an Instagram post showing excessive consumption, misuse of alcohol and drink driving.
The Panel found that one of the Youtube videos did not breach the Code standards but that another Youtube video that depicted a man attempting to ‘shotgun’ a beer and Instagram post showing a man attempting to pour a beer into another man’s mouth did breach the Code by showing rapid consumption and irresponsible behaviour related to alcohol consumption.
The company removed the posts on being notified of the complaint.
Additionally, there was a complaint that Facebook and Instagram posts link alcohol with a high risk activity (mountain bike racing) that has a large following of young people and includes role models for children.
The Panel found that the posts did not have strong or evident appeal to minors and the Facebook posts did not directly imply alcohol consumption before or during mountain bike riding.
However, the Panel found that an Instagram video breached an ABAC standard by showing a member of the team riding, then consuming alcohol and then continuing to ride. In addition, the video shows a Pirate Life can on a bike’s water holder, reasonably implying that consumption could occur during riding/racing in breach of the standard.
The company removed the Instagram video found to breach the ABAC standard prior to the Panel making its decision.
A Pirate Life Throwback IPA Instagram advertisement attracted a complaint that it promoted drinking beer while swimming.
ABAC noted that it is not impermissible to associate alcohol with sailing or being by the water, but it is self-evidently a breach of the Code to show the use of alcohol while swimming.
The Panel found that the Instagram post breached the ABAC standard as a reasonable person could take the image as endorsing the consumption of alcohol while swimming.
The company removed the Instagram Post on receiving the complaint.