Alcohol Digital Marketing sees increase in complaints – ABAC

A new article was published on 28 July 2021 by Julia Stafford, Chair of the Cancer Council Alcohol Working Group, asserting that a number of ABAC signatories had failed to age restrict some of their Facebook/Instagram accounts, asserting that given this is a clear ABAC requirement it represents a failure of the ABAC system

In addition, the first 6 months of this year has seen the highest levels of complaints experienced by ABAC. The majority of complaints related to social media marketing and ABAC are increasingly seeing complainants search through historic social media posts to identify Code breaches. ABAC are currently working on a proposal for actioning historic social media posts via an informal resolution process rather than Panel decision, this will be discussed at ABAC’s next Management Committee meeting in September 2021.

In light of these matters ABAC recommend the following steps to avoid complaints and breaches and demonstrate a commitment to compliance with ABAC standards:

  • Undertake periodic internal audits of each of your brands social media accounts and digital assets to check that:
    • available age restriction controls have been applied to all of your alcohol brand accounts (note – Digital platforms are constantly evolving and alcohol advertisers must make regular enquiries to platforms to ensure all age restriction controls available at a point in time are being utilised);
    • all content on your brand accounts, including user generated content and historic posts, meets ABAC standards;
  • Undertake periodic internal audits of social media influencer promotions of your brands to check that:
    • all individual posts by influencers promoting your brand on Instagram applied age restriction controls (check back to October 2020 when this age restriction control was put in place for all Instagram users);
    • all individual posts by influencers promoting your brand on Facebook applied age restriction controls (check back to March 2019 when ABAC became aware that this user activated age restriction control feature was in place for all Facebook users – awaiting confirmation from Facebook as to the date this feature was first implemented);
    • all influencer posts meet ABAC content standards;
  • Check that all briefs to media platforms include a requirement that your advertising is placed consistently with applicable ABAC placement rules (note that there have been recent placement errors close to schools by non-Outdoor Media Association member sites);
  • Finally, encourage all of your marketing staff and agencies to undertake the free ABAC online training course – just over an hour of their time now could save the time and inconvenience of an ABAC complaint.

It can be frustrating to receive this sort of media and be asked to take these time consuming steps, particularly when signatory breaches are a low proportion of all ABAC breaches, and the increasing number of new small alcohol companies has increased non-compliance in the market. However, your leadership in responsible marketing has already helped improve compliance and attitudes in the craft sector.  Australian Grape & Wine encourage’s you to continue setting an example for responsible alcohol marketing in the wider industry.  

For any queries, please contact ABAC directly at:  

Jayne Taylor
Executive Officer
The ABAC Scheme Limited

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