If, like us, you’re responsible for marketing alcohol, then you’ll be well-aware of the ABAC (Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code) regulations. It’s the code that governs responsible marketing of beverage products.
Until now, if you were marketing no-alcohol drinks like a zero per cent wine or beer, you had no need to be across these regulations, but not anymore. The new ABAC regulations, updated earlier this month, now include 0% alcohol drinks in Australia (0.5% alc/vol or less). As responsible marketers, it’s our responsibility to ensure that any products labelled as wine, beer or spirits, whether they have alcohol in them or not, are marketed ethically and in compliance with regulations.
In this blog, we’ll discuss what the new ABAC regulations mean for marketers of 0% alcohol drinks, what to be mindful of, and how we can help you navigate the changing landscape.
What do the new ABAC changes mean?
Essentially, the new regulations mean that marketers of no-alcohol drinks must comply with the same responsible marketing guidelines as marketers of alcoholic beverages. This includes ensuring that wine, beer or spirits are not marketed to individuals under the age of 18 (in fact, marketing should not include images of consumers that look under 25). Since the last Code review, there has been significant growth in the no-alcohol product sector globally, and this extension aims to protect minors by ensuring that marketing does not inadvertently model inappropriate alcohol use.
It’s important to be mindful of the fact that failing to comply with the new regulations could result in regulatory fines and legal consequences. As a result, we recommend that all marketers of no-alcohol drinks review and adapt their marketing strategies to ensure compliance with the new regulations.
Look at your communication through a new lens to ensure that your brand is not promoting irresponsible behaviour or excessive consumption. Does your 0% brand appeal to minors? Marketers must ensure that their products are only marketed to individuals of a drinking age. For example, there are specific age-gating functions available across all social media platforms, so you can control who sees your content, whether its organic or advertising. This is something that traditional alcohol brands will most-likely already be mindful of, but brands that only sell no-alcohol drinks may need to review their marketing in the way of packaging, advertising and social media campaigns.
Key takeaways of the updated ABAC regulations
In addition to the no-alcohol inclusion, everyone in a marketing alcohol role needs to be aware of the tighter restrictions the updated ABAC regulations now include.
ABAC outlined these key changes*:
- Increasing the percentage of adult viewers required before alcohol advertising is permitted around television programmes from 75 per cent to 80 per cent to ensure Australia’s Code is best practice globally.
- Expanding the definition of ‘Strong and Evident Appeal to Minors’ to further ensure that alcohol advertisements do not engage young people.
- Expanding restrictions on the direct marketing of alcohol by toughening requirements to offer opt outs from this marketing and ensure these are honoured.
- Tighter restrictions on what is meant by responsible and moderate alcohol consumption including the unacceptability of treating excessive alcohol consumption as amusing and of negatively portraying abstinence or refusal of alcohol.
- Following concerns raised during the COVID pandemic the review of the Code clarifies that suggesting consumption of alcohol offers a therapeutic benefit is prohibited and this has been expanded to clarify that this includes a health or mental health benefit, and it is not permissible to suggest alcohol helps overcome problems or adversity.
At Mastermind Consulting, we have over 20 years of experience in navigating the complexities of the Australian wine industry, and many years of working in the no-alcohol space too. There are some great resources over at the ABAC website including this checklist. If you’re ever unsure, our team of experts can help you ensure compliance with the new regulations by helping you to create your next campaign brief to ensure your key messages and imagery comply. Get in touch if you’d like some advice.
Image Credit: ABAC