New code to promote sensible drinking at sponsored events

Alcohol brands must ensure their sponsorship campaigns promote responsible drinking and are funding grassroots programmes as part of the industry’s first UK-wide sponsorship code.

The formal code from industry body the Portman Group has created the widest ever partnership of drinks producers, retailers and representatives from sports and music venues as they attempt to quell concerns from the Government and health charities that events sponsored by drinks brands encourage alcohol abuse.?

Rules to be imposed include preventing alcohol companies from sponsoring events where at least 75 per cent of the spectators are aged 18-and under and brands cannot use images which suggest people who look under the age of 25 are drinking alcohol.

Heineken and AB InBev’s existing sponsorships are already in line with the code with Heineken using their sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League to promote responsible drinking.

?The code has been in development for more than two years and was originally mooted as part of the industry’s responsibility deal with the Government.? Chair of the All Party Parlimentary Sport Group, MP Gerry Sutcliffe, praised the move. Gerry said, “This new code is to be welcomed as an important step to promote responsible drinking. Having a drink whilst watching your favourite team is a visible and enjoyable part of our culture and the more the drinks industry and major sports bodies can do in partnership to ensure that drink is enjoyed responsibly, the better.”

?Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, says the code is an “important gear change” that shows the industry is “constantly raising the bar when it comes to responsible alcohol marketing”. Drinks makers will work with rights holders such as AEG, the Rugby Football Union (RFU), the Lawn Tennis Association and the Premier League to enforce the code.?

?In turn, AB InBev’s Stella Artois is to introduce an online tool to ensure that all bar staff are trained in responsible service at the Open Championship. Diageo’s Guinness is to run a “DrinkiQ” educational programme to educate rugby players about the effects of excessive drinking as part of its sponsorship of the RFU. Meanwhile, Pernod Ricard’s Jacob’s Creek will use its Wimbledon sponsorship to promote responsible drinking.?

?The code is voluntary and will be enforced by the Portman Group, which is funded by the UK’s nine biggest producers and has 140 signatories. The trade body is also working with the Government to shape its alcohol strategy aimed at tackling binge drinking.

Advertising trade body ISBA welcomed the code. Director of public affairs Ian Twinn says: “The sponsorship code augments the self-regulatory system we have in the UK, which encourages responsible marketing and responsible drinking.”

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