Alcohol Advertising: Key rules for marketers

Mar 1st '23

Alcohol advertisements are subject to some of the strictest advertising rules, with the key aim of ensuring alcohol advertisements are socially responsible and do not encourage excessive, irresponsible, or unsafe drinking practices. Because it is a restricted product, a high standard of social responsibility is required from alcohol advertising to help protect vulnerable audiences and Minors from alcohol-related harm.


Whether you’re new to the industry or in need of a refresher, read these top tips to help avoid a breach of the New Zealand Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) Advertising Codes.


  • Careful targeting is key

The Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code requires all alcohol advertisements to target adult audiences. Where audience targeting tools are available, they must be used to ensure the audience is restricted to those over the age of 18. Where such tools are not available, alcohol advertisements may only be placed where audience composition data is available. These advertisements require the minimum threshold of 80% adult audience is met and out-of-home advertisements must not be within 300m sightline of the main entrance to any primary, intermediate or secondary school.


  • Consider your content carefully

Below are key considerations to help your content comply with the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code.


Appeal – content containing cartoons or animations, or heroes of the young may be at risk of appealing to children. Such advertisements require very careful targeting to ensure they are restricted to adult audiences.


Talent – Minors, and visibly pregnant or breastfeeding adults must not be depicted in alcohol advertising.  In addition, prominent talent in alcohol advertising must be, and must appear to be, at least 25 years old. This includes social media influencers and any alcohol advertising content they produce.


Safety ­– alcohol advertisements must not encourage or condone dangerous, illegal or unsafe practices, or link alcohol consumption to activities which may be unsafe when combined with alcohol consumption. Examples include depicting alcohol consumption while swimming, participating in water sports, driving, or operating heavy machinery.


Consumption – advertisers must be careful to depict responsible consumption, taking care to avoid depicting serving sizes greater than the recommended guidelines, and take care not to condone or encourage rapid, heavy or frequent consumption of alcohol.


Effects of alcohol – advertisements which suggest alcohol will improve or enhance a social situation or personal attribute, or is necessary to the enjoyment of an event, are likely to be in breach of the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code.


  • Alcohol Sponsorship

While the ASA does not have jurisdiction to prevent or restrict sponsorship agreements between advertisers and individuals, teams or organisations, all advertisements of these sponsorship agreements are covered under Principle 3 of the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code.  The Code sets out that all sponsorship advertising must target adult audiences, and primarily promote the Sponsored Party.


  • Know the Rules

While this article covers a few of the key points from the Codes, it is crucial advertisers operating in this space are aware of all their obligations under the Advertising Standards Code, and Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code. These Codes work in conjunction with and are complementary to the legislative restrictions around the advertising and promotion of alcohol.


To support compliance, the ASA regularly provides training on the Advertising Standards Codes. For advertisers who wish for a more in-depth review of the Advertising Codes, the Advertising Standards Authority offers bespoke training either in-person or by webinar. If you are interested in attending an industry training session, or booking a customised session for your organisation, please contact them.


More information on the ASA Codes are here.


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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