The Distilled Spirits Council of the US (DISCUS) has issued new guidelines for responsible alcohol advertising and marketing on social networking sites, websites, blogs, mobile communications and other applications, effective 9/30. The guidelines were developed jointly by DISCUS and the European Forum for Responsible Drinking, an alliance of Europe’s leading spirits companies. The new guidelines require:
• “Age-gating” before direct dialogue between advertisers and consumers;
• Privacy policies to ensure protections regarding data collection and use of personal information;
• Regular monitoring of brand pages and sites and removal of inappropriate user-generated content;
• Clearly identifying brand marketing as such in digital marketing communications/ product promotions such as blogs;
• Visible instructions urging individuals to forward downloadable digital content only to adults 21+.
Under the DISCUS Code, beverage alcohol advertising and marketing should be placed in media only where at least 71.6% of the audience is reasonably expected to be of the legal purchase age (21+). The most recent Nielsen online syndicated data (August 2011) show that the Facebook audience was 82.22% 21 years of age or older; the Twitter audience was 86.86% 21+; and the YouTube audience was 80.96% 21+.
RBR-TVBR observation: The Nielsen numbers are currently well ahead of DISCUS guidelines. However, The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY) recently claimed that almost one out of 11 alcohol radio ads in 75 markets across the nation in 2009 failed to comply with the industry’s voluntary standard for the placement of advertising. With so many younger demos now on Facebook, Twitter and the like, DISCUS may be ahead of the curve on this one, rather than waiting for a critical study to come out on social media ads in younger apps and content.