Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code sets record number of determinations in 2020

The Alcoholic Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC) saw a record number of 113 determinations in 2020 in response to 208 complaints.

Data released as part of the ABAC’s fourth quarter of 2020 also detailed several initiatives undertaken in response to high complaint levels in Q4 and the year in general, including a variety of training initiatives.

Matso’s advertising was found to have breached the ABAC Standard

“2020 has set a new record for determination levels, with 208 complaints and 113 determinations, one of which is pending decision,” ABAC chair Harry Jenkins AO noted.

Jenkins said it was “a large increase in determinations”, significantly more than the 68 determinations the panel made last year and is a credit to the chief adjudicator, the Hon Professor Lavarch AO and everyone that supports and participates in the process, that all were considered within the target 30 business day timeframe.

Jenkins also revealed that digital marketing was the largest source of complaints considered by the panel, and said agencies who develop campaigns with alcohol marketers need to take better care of ABAC standards.

“ABAC regulates all social media activity generated by or within the reasonable control of alcohol marketers, including user-generated content. It is important that agencies and staff developing social campaigns for alcohol marketers understand and work within the ABAC standards.”

The ABAC Guidance Notes and Best Practice Digital Alcohol Marketing Guide have been created to assist in responsibility and compliance within the industry. Some of the training initiatives undertaken included industry tailored training to the craft beer and spirits industries.

The quarterly report details 6 determinations where complaints were upheld, 3 determinations of a no-fault breach, while 15 were dismissed by the panel after being referred for determination.

Brands to have breached the code included BAIE Wines, Hard Fizz and Matso, Pirate Life and VB.

The quarterly report referred alcohol marketers to several resources available on the ABAC site including Guidance Notes, Alcohol Packaging Compliance Guide, and Best Practice Guide for Digital Alcohol Marketing.

“ABAC’s pre-vetting service complements ABAC’s training initiatives and resources,” Jenkins said, before revealing that a new record level of pre-vetting requests were received in 2020 (2,424), up 11% on last year.

Jenkins added: “We were pleased to see the upward trend continue despite the practical and financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the alcohol industry.

“Pre-vetting is the easiest and most efficient way for marketers to ensure their promotions and packaging are responsible before hitting the marketplace. Pre-vetting may be undertaken by both signatories and non-signatories and we encourage all alcohol producers, distributors and retailers to utilise this valuable service.”

The ABAC Q4 report is available to view in full here.


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