Responsible Marketing Pact

Leading alcohol beverage producers agree to reinforce advertising self-regulation in Europe

Leading producers from the beer, wine and spirits sectors have launched a comprehensive initiative to strengthen independent advertising self-regulatory schemes for alcohol beverage marketing by establishing a set of common, rigorous standards for their marketing communications throughout the European Union.

Under the Responsible Marketing Pact, AB InBev, Bacardi, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg, Diageo, Heineken, Pernod Ricard and SAB Miller, which together represent a majority of European alcohol advertising spend, will work with EU and national associations to agree and implement common standards for responsible advertising and marketing aimed at reducing visibility and minimising the appeal of alcohol marketing communications to minors. The initiative will be subject to external scrutiny through independent monitoring and public reporting.

The full Responsible Marketing Pact can be found in the European Alcohol and Health Forum Commitment Database by clicking here.

Three pillars for action

Social media

Prevent minors from inadvertently seeing alcohol beverage marketing communications on social media.

This will include common standards for effective age-controls, Facebook sponsored stories, user-generated content, sharing/forwarding functionality, etc.

Placement

Set a common adult demographic standard for alcohol beverage marketing communications across all media, thereby limiting undue exposure of minors to drinks ads.

This will take the form of a common baseline standard that ads may only be placed in media where at least 70% of the audience is reasonably expected to be above legal purchase age.

Appeal

Prohibit any alcohol beverage marketing communications that might be particularly attractive to minors by ensuring that the content of ads appeals primarily to adults.

The initiative will provide consistent guidelines and enforcement in both letter and spirit of rules to ensure ads primarily appeal to adults of the legal purchase age.


For the first time ever, the Responsible Marketing Pact will create common standards supported by beer, wine and spirits producers throughout the EU.

As a first step, the common standards will be defined at EU level by the eight companies, in close consultation with the commitment partners. We will also consult the full EAHF membership and other interested stakeholders on the standards relating to primary appeal to adults. Once agreed, these standards will be immediately applicable to the eight companies.

In a second phase, we will work with the companies and the commitment partners to incorporate the agreed common standards into applicable national self-regulatory codes, and to task the independent national self-regulatory organisations (SROs) across the EU with enforcing them at the national level (sanctions include public naming and shaming, the requirement to amend/retract ads, mandatory pre-clearance for future campaigns, and referral to the competent national regulatory authorities in cases of repeat offenses).

The Responsible Marketing Pact takes the form of a “commitment” by WFA and the companies to the European Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF), the flagship programme of the EU Alcohol Strategy (see below). The promotion of effective standards to ensure responsible alcohol beverage marketing has been an important area of focus for the EAHF. The Responsible Marketing Pact demonstrates the continuing commitment of the beer, wine and spirits sectors to the objectives of the Forum.

As an EAHF commitment, the Responsible Marketing Pact has to comply with the monitoring and reporting requirements of the EAHF. It will be subject to continuous oversight by the European Commission and WFA will present a first progress report on implementation and compliance with the agreed common standards by June 2013. A final report is due by February 2015.

The Responsible Marketing Pact was presented to the Committee on National Alcohol Policy and Action (CNAPA) group of Member State governments in Luxembourg on 19 April and on 26 April, the initiative was presented at the plenary meeting of the European Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF) in Brussels.

The EU Alcohol Strategy

The first EU Alcohol Strategy was adopted by the European Commission in October 2006 in response to the growing recognition of the health impact of harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption in the EU. The Strategy addresses the adverse health effects related to harmful and hazardous alcohol consumption, and identifies five priority themes for action. The current EU Alcohol Strategy comes to an end in 2012.

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EU Alcohol and Health Forum

The EAHF is the flagship programme of the EU Alcohol Strategy to support Member States in reducing alcohol-related harm. Chaired by the European Commission, it brings together alcohol beverage producers, civil society and consumer representatives, the medical profession, the advertising and retail sectors and others to promote voluntary actions to help reduce alcohol-related harm in Europe.

The Charter establishing the European Alcohol and Health Forum (EAHF) was signed in a launch meeting in June 2007 by 40 founding members. To become members of the Forum organisations must meet certain requirements and make one or more specific commitments for action.

Since its inception, Forum members have worked on more than 200 commitments covering a very wide range of activities, including actions in key fields such as consumer information; education; advertising and marketing; and labelling.

To date the Forum involves 72 member organisations ranging from alcohol beverage producers to consumer protection NGOs.

More information

Contact and feedback

For more information or questions, please contact Paola de la Baume at p.delabaume@wfanet.org, +32 (0)2 506 43 92.