Spotlight on: Advertising zero alcohol beverages

Mar 13th '24

With low alcohol and zero alcohol beverages increasing in popularity as consumer curiosity in alcohol free alternatives grows, advertising for this category has expanded.


Advertisers should be aware that these products are still subject to restrictions on advertising through the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code.


Definition of Alcohol

The Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code refers to Alcohol as a consumable product as defined in the Sale and Supply of Alcohol Act 2012, Section 5, Interpretation.


It is important to note that products with less than 1.15% ethanol are also considered as “alcohol” for the purpose of the Code if they are marketed as a non-alcoholic variant or brand extension that resembles a product that contains 1.15% or more ethanol.


This includes products with the same brand name as a higher ethanol product, or products made to taste or look like a higher-alcohol option – for example, a premixed gin and tonic mocktail, or a well-known brand selling an “alcohol free” or “zero alcohol” version of their product.


Although these types of beverages do not contain alcohol, or contain very low percentages, they are considered to implicitly promote the alcohol products they replicate through similar imagery and depictions of drinking occasions.


Zero alcohol doesn’t mean zero advertising restrictions

Low or zero alcohol beverages that are made to look or taste similar to higher-alcohol versions are subject to the same restrictions as their higher-alcohol counterparts. This includes restrictions on placement, content, and targeting of advertisements.


Advertisements for low or zero alcohol products must not encourage excessive consumption. In a 2022 decision from the Advertising Standards Complaints Board, an advertisement for a Sprig and Fern Brewing Co product called “24/7 0.8 % Alc/Vol” was ordered to be removed and the label amended after the Board ruled the product name “24/7” implied the product could be consumed at any time of the day or night and encouraged over consumption despite the lower level of alcohol.


Ensure your ads target and depict an appropriate audience

While these beverages may contain low or no alcohol, they must still be targeted to an adult audience. The Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code states that alcohol advertisements must target adults through content, timing, and placement. The Code requires that pregnant or visibly breastfeeding adults and minors not appear in advertising, and only adults who are at least 25 years of age and also appear to be at least 25 years of age should be visibly prominent in advertising.


Keen to learn more?

Check out our Short & Sweet video on Alcohol Advertising or download our Get It Right The First Time Top Shelf Tips on Responsible Alcohol Advertising to ensure you’re up to speed with the latest rules around advertising alcohol and alcohol-alternative beverages.


Source: ASA


About the New Zealand ASA

The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) is an organisation that investigates breaches of advertising standards in New Zealand. The ASA provides a free complaints process for consumers about the content and placement of advertisements. In assessing complaints, the ASA apply the ASA Advertising Codes.


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