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Alcohol industry places its own restrictions on its advertising

The alcohol industry in SA, made up of numerous alcohol beverage companies like Diageo, SAB etc., has put together a marketing code which voluntarily restricts the way they advertise their products to the public.
Image source: Gallo/Getty Images.

In an effort to limit exposure to children and promote responsible alcohol advertising, the alcohol industry in South Africa has committed to restricting its advertising times on TV and radio as well as to not place billboard advertising within immediate proximity of schools.

The commitment, binding on all alcohol manufacturers, suppliers and retailers, is contained in the Marketing Code, launched by the industry in Johannesburg last week and will be enforced by the Advertising Regulatory Board.

Limiting placement


“Alcohol advertising on radio and TV is limited to between 7pm to 6am during weekdays. On Saturdays and Sundays, alcohol adverts can only be broadcast between 12h00 and 06h00,” said Sibani Mngadi, corporate affairs director at Diageo South Africa. Diageo is a leading spirits company owning world-renowned brands like Johnnie Walker, Smirnoff and Tanqueray.

To limit exposure to children, advertising will only be placed on media channels and programmes where at least 70% of the audience is reasonably expected to be of legal drinking age; 18 years and above.

“For billboards, in particular, we have decided that these should not be within a 500m radius of a school. Digital platforms containing alcohol advertising should also have age verification mechanisms,” explained Mngadi.

In addition to limiting placement, the Code also seeks to regulate the content to make sure that advertisements do not appeal to the underage population, nor misleading to the general audience.

Must not be misleading


“Actors in our adverts must not appear to be younger than 25 years of age. The content of the advertisement may not imply that the consumption of alcoholic beverages is essential to economic/social success or acceptance, nor should it portray negatively on the refusal to consume an alcoholic beverage,” said Mngadi.

General sports sponsorships by alcohol brands are acceptable so long as there is no suggestion that alcohol consumption contributes to athletic success. “While the use of sports people or celebrities in adverts is allowed, those prominent people may not be portrayed consuming alcohol in the advert itself,” Mngadi explained.

The industry marketing codes are equally applicable to zero or zero alcohol products. “Alcohol-free products are an offering to promote responsible consumption for adults who may not want to take alcohol for various reasons including designated drivers. Such products cannot be promoted amongst people below the legal drinking age of 18 years,” said Mngadi.
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