Pump up the… compliance – ensuring your marketing is compliant for the on-trade

Nov 7th '23

The Advisory Service recently attended the 2023 Brewers Congress where the Portman Group were able to meet and chat with various producers and distributors. A common question that came up was in regard to the on-trade and how exactly the Code applies.


  • Pump clips

While the majority of the advice requests the Portman Group receive are in relation to packaging, its worth remembering that pump clips are covered by the Code. Pump clips can be a great way to stand out in the on-trade, and in recent years novelty, bright and colourful designs have become more common place. Some pump clips can now incorporate specific shape designs which can also place greater emphasis on artwork or a product’s brand heritage. It’s worth bearing in mind that the Code will apply in full and while the purchase of alcohol is age-restricted in this environment, entry to the venue is not always age-restricted and pump clips can still be seen by all age groups. The Code is designed to protect those aged under-18 and regardless of whether they can purchase the alcohol, the pump clip design still cannot have a particular appeal to under-18s.  Similarly, the sixth edition of the Code introduced Code rule 3.3 which prevents alcohol marketing from causing serious or widespread offence. It’s therefore important that pump clips do not include anything which could be deemed derogatory, demeaning or discriminatory. For example, gratuitous nudity or objectification of a person is unlikely to be acceptable, even if this is intended to be ‘humorous’ or a reference to brand heritage.


  • On-trade promotion

The Portman Group often get asked about navigating promotions run for the on-trade, from loyalty cards, to buy one get one free offers.  If such marketing is led by, or run in collaboration with, an alcohol producer, then it’s likely the Code will apply. One of the most common issues with on-trade promotions in the Advisory Service fall under Code rule 3.2(f) (encouraging immoderate/irresponsible/illegal consumption). For instance, happy hours can encourage consumers to drink excessively in a short period of time to make the most of a limited time discount and are likely to be problematic under this rule. Any promotion which encourages consumers to drink more than they otherwise would have done in an irresponsible way or encourages them to drink to excess are likely to breach the Code.


  • Co-promotional marketing

While exclusively retailer-led activity is not covered by the Portman Group Code of Practice, if a producer is involved in a co-promotional marketing activity, then this will be captured in their remit. For instance, co-promotional point of sale posters, promotions or drink offers, competitions and even menus can be captured by the Code.


It’s worth remembering that co-promotional activity refers to marketing activity between a producer and retailer, which has taken place with the approval or support of a producer, even if that activity is predominantly retailer-led. As an example, if you are providing branded empty belly posters where a retailer can fill in the middle of the poster, the Portman Group would recommend providing a set of guidelines as to what material would and would not be acceptable in terms of alcohol marketing.


There are a lot of different things to think about in the on-trade, so why not get some clarity by reaching out to the Advisory Service for free, confidential, and non-binding advice.


Source: Portman Group


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