Leading Producers of Beer, Wine, and Spirits Launch Digital Guiding Principles

Standards for digital marketing mark milestone of Commitments to Reduce Harmful Drinking: 

New York, NY –September 30, 2014 – Thirteen of the world’s leading producers of beer, wine, and spirits launched today the Digital Guiding Principles (DGPs), the first-ever set of global guidelines for beverage alcohol producers’ online marketing and social media use. The DGPs require the content of any online marketing to meet the same high standards that apply to traditional marketing activities. The launch event, hosted by the International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP; www.icap.org), was attended by leaders in the fields of advertising self-regulation, alcohol policy, regulators, and representatives of signatory companies.

The DGPs have been developed as part of the Beer, Wine and Spirits Producers’ Commitments to Reduce Harmful Drinking (www.producerscommitments.org), in close collaboration with the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA;www.wfanet.org). They build on an extensive analysis of existing alcohol marketing self-regulation codes and aim to standardize them across companies, across markets, and across digital platforms to provide guidance for all digital marketing content produced by signatory companies moving forward.

“The DGPs, and the broader Commitments, represent the rigorous steps that beverage alcohol producers are taking to help reduce harmful drinking,” said Marcus Grant, ICAP President. “This complex challenge requires the dedication and coordination of all stakeholders, and we look forward to continuing this collaboration between producers, marketing and advertising leaders, social media platforms, and regulators.”

Highlights of the DGPs include:

  • Clear guidance for social media: The signatory companies call on social media providers to implement and strengthen age confirmation mechanisms, but the DGPs also include conditions for producers to consider even in the absence of these mechanisms, so that stringent standards may be applied to social media content across all platforms in a way that can evolve with the rapid pace of technology.
  • Transparency: The DGPs will be independently monitored and results will be shared publicly, including with relevant government agencies around the world.
  • Forward Advice Notice (FAN): Whenever alcohol beverage companies’ controlled digital platforms have the functionality to allow content sharing, alcohol beverage companies should include a Forward Advice Notice (FAN) on the platform, clearly stating that the content should not be forwarded to anyone under LPA in the country of viewing. The goal is to raise awareness and remind readers and viewers that we must restrict underage access to alcohol advertising, in addition to restricting access to beverage alcohol itself.

“As companies work to promote responsible consumption of their products, the DGPs’ goal is to ensure that they take every step possible to minimize the risk of content reaching underage audiences,” said Stephan Loerke, Director General, WFA. “The adoption of these ambitious new standards demonstrates how seriously alcohol producers are taking their responsibilities when it comes to the promotion of their products.”

The Digital Guiding Principles are relevant to all branded alcohol beverage digital marketing communications (paid and unpaid), including but not limited to advertising and marketing communications on websites such as social network sites and blogs, as well as mobile communications and applications.

The Commitments represent the largest ever industry-wide initiative to address harmful drinking. The producers signed the Commitments in October 2012, when they agreed to undertake a series of actions over five years (beginning in 2013) with the goal of strengthening and expanding existing efforts to reduce the harmful use of alcohol. The five commitments address:

  • Reducing underage drinking
  • Strengthening and expanding marketing codes of practice
  • Providing consumer information and responsible product innovation
  • Reducing drinking and driving
  • Enlisting the support of retailers to reduce harmful drinking

The 13 signatories of the Commitments are:

– Anheuser-Busch InBev – Heineken
– Bacardi Limited – Japanese Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association
– Beam Inc. – Molson Coors
– Brewers Association of Japan – Pernod Ricard
– Brown-Forman Corporation – SABMiller
– Carlsberg – UB Group
– Diageo

The full Digital Guiding Principles are available online here: https://joom.ag/0vqb.

The International Center for Alcohol Policies (ICAP; www.icap.org) is a not-for-profit organization supported by major international producers of beverage alcohol. Established in 1995, ICAP’s mission is to promote understanding of the role of alcohol in society and to help reduce harmful drinking worldwide. ICAP’s efforts to foster dialogue and partnerships in the alcohol policy field are shaped by its commitment to pragmatic and feasible solutions to reducing harm that can be tailored to local and cultural considerations and needs. ICAP has been recognized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UN ECOSOC) as a non-governmental organization in Special Consultative Status.