Record year of complaints to ABAC

April 12, 2021
By Ioni Doherty

Last year was a record year for complaints to the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) and the number of pre-vetting requests, complaint levels and number of determinations have continued at a steady rate for the first quarter of this year.

“Digital marketing continues to be the largest source of complaints considered by the Panel and the Code standards most commonly breached this quarter include images of alcohol use in conjunction with swimming pools and suggestions that alcohol has some sort of therapeutic benefit,” said ABAC Chair, Harry Jenkins.

Deliv Seltzer, FIZZ and VACAY Seltzer were just some of the alcoholic beverage summer campaigns set poolside, contravening the ABAC standard that “alcohol marketing cannot show the consumption of alcohol before or during any activity that, for safety reasons, requires a high degree of alertness or physical co-ordination, such as swimming”.

FIZZ also came under fire for encouraging binge drinking and objectifying women in its advertising. The brand is founded by DJ Fisher, his wife Chloe Fisher, Mad Huey’s co-founder Joel Scott, art director and Raen Eyewear founder Justin Heit and global drinks veteran Wade Tiller.

Bailey’s candied gift box was found to appeal to minors through the “usage of mini milk bottles and paper straws, reference to milk, aesthetic illustrations such as sprinkles and cream and the prominent display of the word, ‘yum’ on the front of the packaging.”

Similarly, Vodka Cruiser – advertised on a billboard close to a high school and using imagery appealing to minors- and Cheeky Monkey Brewery – through packaging artwork of Santa and fairy tale characters – were both found to have breached codes by appealing to minors as well. Two Pairs Wines depicted a child holding a wine glass.

All companies withdrew products, advertising and posts once breaches of the standards were determined to be correct.

ABAC has developed a series of training videos and an online training course that comprehensively cover all aspects of the ABAC standards.

The new ABAC resources are available free of charge and ABAC recommends that all alcohol producers, distributors and retailers, their marketing staff, advertising, public relations, digital, social media and influencer agencies, media partners and packaging designers to undertake the course.  

The time commitment is just over an hour and significantly assists marketers in avoiding Code breaches and demonstrating their commitment to responsible alcohol marketing.

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