Alcohol advertising

Alcohol advertising is regulated in Australia through a combination of government legislation and industry self-regulation.

The two key industry codes that apply to advertising alcohol are:

The ABAC Responsible Alcohol Marketing Code complements Australian legislation and sets key standards for the responsible content and placement of alcohol marketing in Australia. This code is administered by the ABAC Scheme.

The Code of Ethics is administered by Ad Standards and applies to all advertising.

Alcohol advertising must also comply with other applicable laws and codes, including:

Complaints about alcohol advertising

All alcohol advertising complaints are lodged with Ad Standards. Complaints about alcohol advertising are assessed by Ad Standards under the AANA Code of Ethics. If a complaint raises issues under any provision in the Code of Ethics, the ad will be considered by the Ad Standards Community Panel.

Concerns about advertising that encourages excess or unsafe alcohol consumption are considered under Section 2.6 (Health and Safety) of the Code of Ethics.  

Ad Standards also sends all complaints about alcohol advertising to the ABAC Scheme. The ABAC Scheme determines whether the complaint raises issues under the ABAC Responsible Alcohol Marketing Code. If it does, the ABAC Complaints Panel will consider the complaint.  

It is possible for the ABAC and Ad Standards panels to arrive at different decisions about the same ad because they are assessed using different codes but if a complaint is upheld by either the ABAC Complaints Panel or Ad Standards Community Panel, the advertiser must modify or withdraw the ad.  

Examples of previous decisions

The Community Panel has found a breach of Section 2.6 (Health and Safety) of the AANA Code of Ethics in the following cases:

  • Promoting or depicting unsafe or excessive drinking behaviours.
  • Promoting drinking in situations where it is unsafe or illegal.
    • Better Brewing Co – 0325-21

The Community Panel has also found that some ads did not breach Section 2.6 (Health and Safety) of the AANA Code of Ethics:

  • Depicting people drinking, in moderation, in the vicinity of a pool or body of water, or undertaking light physical activity.
    • Carlton United Breweries – 0127/19
  • Promoting give-aways or promotions in connection with purchasing alcoholic beverages.
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