For the purposes of the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) and Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice (BCAP) Codes, low alcohol drinks are specifically defined as having an ABV of above 0.5%, up to and including 1.2%. Although some within the drinks industry include drinks at or below 0.5% as ‘low’ alcohol, these are outside of the definition used by CAP and BCAP.
Low alcohol drinks are still subject to every rule in the alcohol section; specific guidance on these rules is available separately.
- Alcohol by volume (ABV) claims
Although the alcohol rules all apply to low alcohol drinks, there is a small exception made for the way in which their alcohol content can be promoted.
Ads for alcoholic drinks may state the ABV of the product but may not make a particular feature of alcoholic strength, state that it is preferable, or imply that it is a reason to purchase the product. However, ads for low alcohol drinks may make a preferential feature of their low alcohol content, provided that they clearly state the ABV.
Until recently, ads for low alcohol drinks could not make a preferential feature of the low ABV if the ad also featured a standard strength drink (i.e. one stronger than 1.2%). However, this restriction has now been eased. This means that marketers can include messaging such as “if you like our beer but want to cut down on alcohol, try our 1% version.”
More information about ABV claims can be found in this article.
- Health claims
As with all alcoholic drinks, ads for low alcohol drinks are heavily restricted in terms of health and nutrition claims. The only acceptable claims are:
- Low alcohol (as defined above)
- Reduced alcohol
- Reduced energy (calories)
As a low alcohol content can be a factor resulting in a large reduction in calories, and because of the similarity between the words ‘low’ and ‘lower’, marketers should take particular care not to make “low energy (calorie)” claims. For instance, marketing claims such as “low alcohol, low calorie!” or “only 1% ABV and only 10 calories” would not be permissible.
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