How it works: Complaints about alcohol advertising in Australia

The regulation of alcohol advertising in Australia aims to ensure that ads do not promote excessive or irresponsible drinking, and do not appeal to minors.

In Australia, alcohol advertising is regulated by a combination of self-regulation through industry codes, and government legislation. The primary industry code that governs alcohol advertising is the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC), which sets standards for advertising and marketing practices for the industry.

Complaints about alcohol advertising 

The ABAC is administered by the Alcohol Beverages Advertising Code Complaints Panel, which is responsible for investigating and resolving complaints about breaches of the code.

All alcohol complaints are lodged with Ad Standards. Ad Standards will assess the complaint under the AANA Code of Ethics. If the complaint raises issues under this Code, the ad will be considered by the Ad Standards Community Panel. Concerns raised about situations or suggestions encouraging the excess or unsafe consumption of alcohol are considered by the Community Panel under Section 2.6 of the AANA Code of Ethics (Health and Safety).

Ad Standards also sends an complaints about alcohol advertising to the ABAC Chief Adjudicator. The Chief Adjudicator determines whether the complaint raises issues solely under Ad Standards jurisdiction or if the complaint also raises issues with the ABAC. If it does, the ABAC Complaints Panel considers the complaint.

The ABAC Panel may consider complaints in addition to Ad Standards. Therefore, both regulatory bodies may assess all alcohol complaints.

What happens if a complaint is upheld? 

If either the ABAC Complaints Panel or Ad Standards Community Panel uphold a complaint, the advertiser is asked to modify or withdraw the ad.

It is possible for Ad Standards or ABAC to arrive at different decisions about the same ad because each body assesses it using different Codes.

View the ABAC Responsible Alcohol Marketing Code (ABAC) here.

View the AANA Code of Ethics here.

Other rules 

The ABAC Scheme and the AANA Code of Ethics are not the only set of rules affecting alcohol advertising in Australia. It must also comply with other applicable laws and codes, including:

  • Australian Consumer Law
  • Australian Content and Children’s Television Standards 2020
  • Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice
  • Commercial Radio Code of Practice
  • Subscription Television Code of Practice
  • SBS Code of Practice
  • Outdoor Media Association Code of Ethics and Alcohol Advertising Policy

Need help? 

If you have any questions about our complaints handling process, please feel free to get in touch.

You can also view previous cases reviewed by the Ad Standards Community Panel here.

Scroll to Top