Under the influence? Booze giants vow to protect kids

underage_boozeThe world’s biggest drinks brands have joined forces with leading agency groups in a global initiative for influencer marketing, designed to prevent under 18s from seeing any alcohol marketing online, and reducing harmful drinking among adults.

Launched by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD) – whose members are the leading global beer, wine, and spirits producers – in partnership with leading advertising, PR, and influencer agencies, it is claimed the new measures will create the first-ever industry-wide set of global standards for influencer marketing.

The rules are designed to help ensure alcohol marketing by social influencers is clearly recognised, responsibly advertised, and aimed at an audience over the legal purchase age.

Influencer marketing across all sectors is predicted to grow to $13.8bn by end 2021, but, in the UK at least, its proponents are in the dock with the Advertising Standards Authority almost on a weekly basis.

Under the pledge, producers and advertisers have committed to conducting diligence on influencers used, to using age-affirmation technology on platforms where available, and to promoting better understanding of responsible alcohol consumption for boozers.

The move to formalise safeguards for influencer marketing also includes a set of five specific safeguards that apply to any content involving influencers who work with the leading beer, wine, and spirits producers.

It will also feature tools and videos that support all alcohol brands and influencers to follow robust responsible marketing practices when creating content and clear commitments to market responsibly, including not making health claims, promoting illegal or excessive consumption, or positioning abstinence negatively.

This work builds on ongoing actions by IARD members to ensure safeguards for alcohol advertising online, including the Digital Guiding Principles and partnerships with YouTube, Facebook, and Snapchat to improve age screening, enabling users to opt out of alcohol marketing, and allowing content creators to age-gate posts.

IARD group chair Albert Baladi is also president and CEO of Beam Suntory, the company behind Jim Beam and Old Grand-Dad bourbons, Courvoisier cognac, Teacher’s whisky and Knob Creek Rye scotch. He said: “This partnership reflects the significant work that IARD members have already undertaken and the shared determination with the world’s leading agencies to do even more to prevent minors from seeing alcohol ads online.

“These standards directly address some of the biggest concerns facing the marketing community right now. By offering more transparency and giving those at the heart of content creation the correct tools to safeguard their content, we are able to expand on the significant progress and marketing codes of practice already in place to ensure that these posts do not reach minors or encourage any kind of irresponsible consumption.”

The move follows a call by the Alcohol Health Alliance for the UK Government to include booze ads in the new advertising restrictions for food and drink brands high in fat, salt and sugar (HFSS).

According to the Advertising Code, the rules already state that alcohol ads must not be directed at people under 18 or contain anything that is likely to appeal to them by reflecting youth culture, and individuals that feature in alcohol ads must be 25 years of age or over, and look it.

There are also strict controls around the placement of alcohol ads and they are currently banned from appearing in and around programmes targeted at audiences below the age of 18 and programmes likely to appeal particularly to this age group.

However, drinks firms still regularly fall foul of the restrictions and the AHA claims they do not go far enough.

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