Ofcom tightens rules on alcohol ads

Rachel Stevenson
Tuesday 02 November 2004 01:00
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The rules on alcohol advertising were toughened yesterday to stop drinks manufacturers promoting brands to young people and to prevent alcoholic products being used in commercials as something able to enhance social or sexual prowess.

But the watchdog, Ofcom, backed down from earlier proposals that would have banned celebrities, teen music and animals from appearing in ads. It will now be up to the Broadcasting Committee of Advertising Practice, part of the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), to issue guidelines on their use.

Ofcom, which handed over responsibility for advertising to the ASA yesterday, began consulting on changes to the alcohol advertising rules in the summer, and has tightened up the language used in the rules to ease enforcement. From January, ads must not "strongly appeal to under-18s by reflecting or being associated with youth culture". The current laws only state that the ads should not have "particular appeal to under-18s".

The new rules ban ads that "show, imply or refer to daring toughness, aggression or unruly, irresponsible or anti-social behaviour". Ads must no longer link alcohol with sexual activity or imply that alcohol can enhance attractiveness, although "romance" and "flirtation" between over-25s can be used.

Drinks must also be handled and served responsibly in ads. This means that ads such as those for Bacardi, which starred the former footballer Vinnie Jones liberally throwing rum around a bar to an adoring crowd of beautiful women, would be questionable.

Alcohol Concern welcomed the proposals, saying many current ads would breach the new rules. Allied Domecq, the drinks giant behind brands such as Tia Maria and Beefeater gin, said tighter regulation of alcohol adverts was now "vital".

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