Common Standards for Commercial Communication of Spirit Drinks

November 4, 2010


The rules in this document are applicable to the advertising and commercial communication of spirit and mixed drinks and substantiate and supplement the general standards of the National Ethical Rules for Advertising and Commercial Communication and have to be interpreted and applied along with these. 


The alcoholic beverages are beer, wine and spirit drinks. The spirits drinks are products with alcohol content above 15 % ABV. There are also mixed drinks, comprising non-alcoholic and spirit drinks. As a rule, these mixed drinks are low in alcohol content.

The present Common standards regulate the commercial communication of spirit and mixed drinks, hereinafter commonly referred as “Beverages”.

 Purpose of these Common Standards

When responsibly consumed, the alcoholic drinks are enjoyable and are an element of the balanced lifestyle of the today consumers. It is however recognized that excessive or irresponsible consumption of Beverages may have  negative consequences for both the individual and the society. The purpose of these Common Standards is to ensure that commercial communications do not encourage or condone excessive consumption or misuse of any kind.

 1. Misuse

1.1 Commercial Communications should not encourage or condone excessive or irresponsible consumption, nor present abstinence or moderation in any negative way.

1.2 Commercial Communications should not show people who appear to be drunk or in any way imply that drunkenness is acceptable.

1.3 Commercial Communications should not suggest any association with violent, aggressive, illegal, dangerous or antisocial behavior.

1.4 Commercial Communications should avoid any association with, acceptance of, or allusion to drug culture or illicit drugs.

2. Minors

2.1 Commercial Communications should not be aimed at minors nor show minors consuming Beverages.

2.2 Commercial Communications should only promote Beverages in print and broadcast media for which at least 70% of the audience are reasonably expected to be adults 18 years or older. They should not promote Beverages in print and broadcast media, or events for which more than 30% of the audience is known or reasonably expected to be minors.

2.3 Commercial Communications should not use models and actors who are not at least 25 years of age.

2.4 Commercial Communications should not use objects, images, styles, symbols, colors, music and characters (either real or fictitious, including cartoon figures or celebrities such as sporting heroes) of primary appeal to children or adolescents.

2.5 Commercial Communications should not use brand identification such as names, logos, games, game equipment or other items of primary appeal to minors.

3. Drinking and Driving

Commercial Communications should not suggest that the consumption of Beverages is acceptable before or whilst driving motor vehicles of any kind, including speed boats, jet-skis, snow-mobiles and airplanes.

4. Hazardous Activities, Workplace & Recreation

Commercial Communications should not suggest that the consumption of Beverages is acceptable before or whilst operating potentially dangerous machinery, or with undertaking any potentially hazardous recreational or work-related activity.

5. Health Aspects

5.1 Commercial Communications should not claim that Beverages may have therapeutic properties and that their consumption may help preventing, treating or curing any human disease.

5.2 Where permitted by law, Commercial Communications using truthful and accurate factual statements about carbohydrate, calories or other nutrient content may be appropriate in some circumstances.

6. Pregnancy

Commercial Communication should not show pregnant women drinking or aim at women who are pregnant.

7. Alcohol Content

7.1. Commercial Communications should not create any confusion as to the nature and strength of Beverages.

7.2. The Advertisers will not use identical or similar advertising and commercial communication to promote different types of alcoholic Beverages.

7.3. Commercial Communications may present information for consumers on alcoholic strength but should not emphasize high alcoholic strength as a dominant theme in any brand communications materials. On the other hand, messages may not imply that consuming Beverages of low alcohol content will avoid abuse.

8. Performance

Commercial Communications should not create the impression that consumption of beverages enhances mental ability or physical performance or has an energizing effect, e.g. when engaging in activities requiring concentration in order to be safely executed.

9. Social Success

Commercial Communications should not suggest that the consumption of Beverages is a requirement for social acceptance or success.

10. Sexual Success

10.1 Under no circumstances should Commercial Communications be unethical, offend against generally prevailing standards of taste and decency or otherwise impugn human dignity and integrity.

10.2 Commercial Communications should not suggest that the consumption of Beverages enhances sexual capabilities, attractiveness or leads to sexual relations.


All Commercial Communications must be in keeping with both the letter and the spirit of all national applicable laws, regulations and self-regulatory codes of practice.


The general aim of these Common Standards is not to replace existing national systems, but rather to provide general criteria that should be met by national self-regulatory mechanisms, sector and company codes. Complaints based on / concerning an infraction of the Common Standards are dealt with by the member organizations of the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA), also called Self Regulations Organizations or other appropriate organizations at national level. These national organizations are best placed to deal with complaints, as only they will be able to assess and understand fully the national context and local sensitivities.


The Common Standards are further clarified and explained in the attached Annexes that include specific guidance:

for Point of Sales promotions (Annex 1) and

for Internet, digital and mobile marketing media (Annex 2)

for Sponsorship (Annex 3)



These Guidelines for Responsible Promotions are an integral part of the Common Standards for Commercial Communications. They apply in addition to the Common Standards and should therefore be read in conjunction.

Promotions are an appropriate and valuable marketing tool to:

enhance customer awareness of a product/brand;

showcase a new product/brand.

As with all commercial communications, promotions should

be developed, implemented and managed responsibly;

never be aimed at underage drinkers;

never encourage violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti social or illegal behavior, drink driving or alcohol misuse;

never be demeaning to any group in society or otherwise offend accepted standards of taste and decency;

be in full compliance with the prevailing laws, regulations and self-regulatory codes.

Given the complexity and structure of the beverage alcohol industry and the restaurant, retail, bar and hospitality business throughout Europe, the manufacturer whose product(s) is/are part of a promotional activity may not always be involved in or even aware of that particular activity. This of course affects the degree of control – if any – the manufacturer can exert over the content and tone of such activities. The operator and/or owner of the venue where the promotional activity takes place are important parties for the implementation of promotional activities.

Therefore it is in the interest of the industry and in the interest of the society as a whole that beverage alcohol products (hereafter referred to as Beverages) are promoted responsibly. The National Council for Selfregulation  will cooperate with  APITSD to ensure that these Guidelines are fully understood and communicated widely in sectors such as:

• retail

hotels / restaurants / cafes / bars / nightclubs / discotheques

tourism boards

educational bodies and institutes from the HORECA industry

promotion agencies and promotion suppliers

events producers and organizers

Types of promotions

Promotional activities of Beverages can take place broadly in the following types of settings:

in store (small shops, supermarkets, hypermarkets)

on-premise (licensed establishments)

third party events

in-house (e.g. production facility tours)

own events in non-traditional locations (e.g. brand-owner sports event; brand’s music or dance festivals, train stations, on the beach, old industrial sites, spontaneous gatherings/events organized via sms)

private homes of consumers

As circumstances and settings greatly vary, there is not one rule for everyone.These Guidelines, based on the provisions of the Common Standards, aim to provide practical tips on a number of aspects concerning promotional activities:

• setting

• content

• tone
• approach

audience (age) profile.

These Guidelines cover both the actual activity and the supporting materials.

Guidelines for Point-of-Sales promotions

Basic Principles

a. There should be no form of discrimination of participation on the grounds of race, sexual orientation, religion, political inclination etc.

b. Avoid images, messages or activities which are likely to be considered gratuitously offensive or demeaning.

c. Ensure that the price for the Beverage(s) is/are known to all consumers.

d. Ensure that the alcoholic nature / alcohol content of the promoted Beverage(s) is/are known to consumers when the promotional activity is being started.

1. Misuse

a. Never encourage irresponsible and excessive consumption of Beverages.

b. Do not use any “drinking games” that may encourage excessive or irresponsible consumption, such as activities which involve either “speed incentives” or drinking an excessive amount of Beverages within a short period of time.

c. Do not serve consumers who are or appear to be uncontrollably excited, drunk, aggressive or engage in anti-social behaviour. Ensure your staff is fully briefed on how to manage consumers who appear drunk, aggressive or anti-social.

d. Do not exercise any pressure on people not willing to participate.

e. Do not act negatively towards people who are not interested in the promotion.

f. It is good practice to display a clearly visible and appropriate responsible drinking message.

g. Ensure none of the aspects of the activity encourages excessive or irresponsible consumption (content, language, behaviour of promotional teams, price/timing etc).

h. If a promotion or incentive includes a multi-purchase, consumers are not encouraged to drink over the national recommendation for sensible drinking.

i. Promotional activities and messages should never encourage consumers to engage in risky or potentially dangerous activities or behaviour.

2. Minors

a. Never engage in promotional activities inviting people under the legal purchase age to participate.

Minors can be defined for these Standards as: “Young people below 18; or higher when national legal purchase age requires”.

b. Do not allow people below the legal drinking age to participate.

c. Do not carry out the promotion at all if it is reasonably expected that more than 30%of the public will consist of people under the legal drinking age. In case of doubt,do not go ahead with the activity (please check percentages as they may vary fromcountry to country).

d. Consider using displays to inform consumers that Beverages should only be consumedby people over the legal purchase age (please see also point f under point 1 Misuse).

e. In case of doubt about the legality of the age, ask for proof of age, when appropriate (be aware of national laws and regulations regarding identity / proof of age requests).

f. Ensure that none of the aspects of the activity primarily appeal to people under thelegal drinking age (content, language, cartoons, music, celebrities etc).

g. Alcohol brands should not feature on children’s/adolescent size clothing.

3. Drinking and Driving

a. Be particularly vigilant about the participation of consumers who may drive followingparticipation, e.g. in a supermarket tasting.

b. Consider displaying a “don’t drink and drive” message.

c. Be careful with promotions in venues closely linked with driving (e.g. highway stores/restaurants).

d. While motor vehicles can be used as prizes, great care must be taken at the awardsceremony to ensure the vehicle cannot be driven by anyone who has consumedBeverages (e.g. vehicle keys can be handed over the day after the award ceremony).

4. Hazardous Activities, Workplace & Recreation

a. Ensure that the promotion does not include or encourage a hazardous activity.

5. Health Aspects

a. Ensure that no aspects of the activity imply that the Beverage has any properties ofpreventing, treating or curing a human disease.

6. Pregnancy

Commercial Communication should not show pregnant women drinking orspecifically aim at women who are pregnant.

7. Alcohol Content

a. Ensure that participants in the promotion know that alcohol is involved.

b. Do not use drink-delivery methods / gimmicks which might confuse or mislead theconsumer as to the amount of alcohol they are consuming (e.g. alcohol sprays, vaporisers).

8. Performance

a. Do not encourage or promote drinking prior to engaging in sports.

9. Social Success

Commercial Communications should not suggest that the consumption ofBeverages is a requirement for social acceptance or success.

10. Sexual Success

10.1 Under no circumstances should Commercial Communications be unethical, offend against generally prevailing standards of taste anddecency or otherwise impugn human dignity and integrity.

10.2 Commercial Communications should not suggest that the consumptionof Beverages enhances sexual capabilities, attractiveness or leads tosexual relations.

11. Sampling

No sampling of Beverages should be offered to minors; it is allowed at licensed or private premises, trade fairs or occasions in accordance with local regulations.

It should be noted that the provisions of the Common Standards and the guidance given in this guidelines for promotions also apply to sampling, i.e. informing the consumer about what they are to sample, alcohol strength, not sampling someone who is drunk, where people are potentially participating in risky or dangerous activity or where they potentially engage in anti social behavior etc.

Under sampling the most important element is to ensure that the promotion teams are sticking to the rules; therefore we suggest to develop a training tool.

Prohibited Physical POS / Promotional items

Promotions involving drinking vessels, gimmicks, sprays or other drink dispensing mechanisms which either

Encourage excessive drinking

And/or mean that consumers cannot readily tell how much alcohol they are consuming (e.g. squirt guns, AWOL machines)

And/or mean that consumers do not have control on the amount of alcohol they are consuming, or the speed of delivery (free-pour luges, ‘dentist chairs’)

Drinking vessels, gimmicks or drink-dispensing mechanisms with medical orpharmaceutical connotations, e.g. syringes, test tubes.

Promotions which involve religious or other symbols and references which couldcause offence in the context of an alcohol beverage promotion.

Sweets or children’s confectionary: no confectionary/treats that are primarilyassociated with children; adult confectionary is acceptable, liqueur chocolates, darkchocolate, if in doubt sales data should be looked at to ensure adult audience.

Prize giveaways and games primarily appealing to underage.

Drinking games and/or games that can encourage irresponsible consumption.

Seduction games with a sexual content or connotation.

Inflatable e.g. doughnuts, lilos, inflatable beds/pillows, chairs, etc likely to be used in the water should not be primarily appealing to underage.

Clothes in children’s sizes or any reference thereto,

Sex toys

Branded condoms

Hangover cures



These Guidelines for commercial communications on the Internet are an integral part of theCommon Standards for Commercial Communications of Beverages. They apply in addition to the CommonStandards and should be read in conjunction with the Common Standards. The commercial communications on the Internet play an increasinglyimportant role in the marketing mix for branded alcohol beverages as a valuable andappropriate tool to reach out to consumers of legal drinking age.

The Internet Guidelines apply to brand and product promotion websites and web pagesof Advertisers; they do not apply to websites or parts of websites with e.g.corporate, financial, investor or other information that does not promote a brand or product.

The Internet Guidelines will also apply to othercommercial communications on the Internet including:

E-mail marketing,

Banner ads,

Interactive advertising,

Search engine and blog marketing,

Social networks/communities,

Sponsorship, and

Content placements on third-party websites,as well as other types of Internet marketing and content placement, paid or unpaid. Pleasesee a list with further examples for commercial communications on the Internet at the end ofthis document.

Like all internet-based marketing activities, commercial communications on the Internetrepresent an area that is still in an evolutionary development where new trends may occurrather rapidly. These Guidelines will therefore be reviewed continuously and, if and whennecessary, adapted.

The Guidelines are structured as follows:

1. Glossary of terms, which is part of the Guidelines.

2. The provisions of the Guidelines

3. Explanatory comments

1. Glossary of terms

Banner ad– is a graphic image or other media object used as an advertisement on a thirdparty website; can be used as pop-up or pop-under.

Blogs– are websites where entries are commonly displayed in reverse chronological order.Many blogs provide commentary or news on a particular subject; others function as morepersonal online diaries. A typical blog combines text, images, and links to other blogs, webpages, and other media related to its topic. The ability for readers to leave comments in aninteractive format is an important part of many blogs.

Download Advice Notice– is a notice advising a visitor to an Internet site wishing todownload content that the content is intended/made available only for adults over 18, andadvising that such content should not, following download, be forwarded or otherwise madeavailable to those under 18.

Download Content– is all content featuring brands, brand messages or brand logos thatis offered for download by an Advertiser. “A download” is any file that is offered fordownloading or that has been downloaded and “to download” means to receive data froma remote or central system, such as a web server, FTP server, mail server, or other similarsystems.

E-mail Marketing– is a form of direct marketing that uses electronic mail as a means ofcommunicating commercial messages to an audience. In its broadest sense, every email sentto a potential or current retail customer could be considered email marketing.

Internet Sites– shall mean Advertisers’ own brand and product promotion websites andweb pages and shall not mean websites or parts of websites with e.g. corporate, financial,investor or other information that does not promote a brand or product.

Search Engine Marketing (SEM)– is a form of Internet marketing that seeks to promotewebsites by increasing their visibility in search engine result pages; this includes searchengine optimization (or SEO), paid placement, and paid inclusion. Other sources define SEM as the practice of buying paid search listings.

Syndicated Data (Sources)– are sources where the advertiser can find information aboutthe audience of a TV or radio station, network, internet site or a publication; usually such data are certified by an independent body or the advertiser has contracted an independentresearch firm (such as Com Score or Nielsen/NetRatings) for the compilation of the data.

Unique Visitors– is a statistic describing a unit of traffic to a website, counting each visitoronly once in the time frame of the report. This statistic is relevant to site publishers andadvertisers as a measure of a site’s true audience size. The number of Total Visitors to asite divided by Unique Visitors results in the derived statistic “Average Sessions per UniqueVisitor”, which tells a publisher how many times on average each Unique Visitor came to theirsite on average in the time frame of the report.

Social Networks/Communities– a virtual community, e-community or online communityis a group of people that primarily interact via communication media such as letters,telephone, email or Usenet rather than face-to-face, for social, professional, educational orother purposes. If the mechanism is a computer network, it is called an online community.Virtual and online communities have also become a supplemental form of communicationbetween people who know each other primarily in real life. Many means are used in socialsoftware separately or in combination, including text-based chartrooms and forums that usevoice, video text or avatars. Significant socio-technical change may have resulted from theproliferation of such Internet-based social networks.

2. Provisions

Content of Commercial Communications on the Internet, in Digital or MobileMarketing Media

1. Advertisers will apply The Common Standards apply to all media platforms, includingboth digital and legacy media, which are used to transmit (digital) commercialcommunications.

2. Advertisers will ensure that Content and related technologies on brand and product promotion websites and web pages are to be designed for visitors of legal ageonly, and safeguarding mechanisms will be put in place with intent to discourageunderage access as set forth in item 3 below.

3. Landing pages of brand and product promotion websites and web pages Advertisers will incorporate an age confirmation check (birth date, country of consumer access), allowing access only to visitors who are able to confirm a legal age of 18 years old or above.

Advertising specialists will add to the age confirmation before getting access to a brandand product promotion website the address of a dedicated website where visitorscan receive information about inappropriate alcohol consumption.

4. Underage visitors designating their age as being under 18 attempting to enter an
Advertisers brand and product promotion website shall be directed to dedicatedwebsites that encourage responsible drinking behavior. In Bulgaria this site is

5.Advertisers will include responsible drinking messages in all their digital commercial communications as well as a reference to dedicated responsible drinkingwebsite.

Responsible Drinking Messages for this guidance mean messages such as “Drink Responsibly”, “Consume in Moderation”, “Know your limits” etc. 

6. Advertisers will undertake to ensure that their brand and product promotion websites and web pages, their content and related technologies are designed for adults. 

7. Advertisers shall ensure that all brand and product promotion content placed by them on the Internet shall, by the nature of the content or by its presentation, be easily identifiable to the reasonably attentive viewer as a communication of a commercial nature.

Responsible Placement of Commercial Communications on the Internet, in Digitalor Mobile Marketing Media

8. The minimum 70% over-18 audience threshold (or higher if mandated by local laws or regulation) applies to all digital brand and product promotion placed on theInternet.

9. Advertisers shall apply this threshold as follows:

9.1 Syndicated data sources will be used consistently, and shall be a first preference,

to evaluate the audience profile to manage any placement on the Internet.

9.2 If an Internet website is not measured by a syndicated data source, Advertisers should, as a second choice, request an independent demographic surveyfrom the website publisher prior to purchasing or placing a digital commercialcommunication.

9.3 In the event that the syndicated audience composition data, or an independentthird-party survey does not demonstrate a 70% above 18 years of agedemographic, or if neither are available, but the electronic publisher of the site under review operates a “registered user” database incorporating an age confirmation element, Advertising specialists can use the Internet site’s registered userdatabase to ensure that only users who have registered as being above 18 years ofage will be targeted.

9.4 In the event that none of the compliance mechanics set out at 9.1 to 9.3 are available on a website,
Advertisers may place content if

(a) the publisher of the website in question agrees to implement in relation to the placement of a digital commercial communication an age-confirmation mechanism or similar access barrier through which visitors must pass to view the relevant content and

(b) the Advertiser is satisfied that the website satisfies the test set out in clause 11.

9.5 For placements on third party “one-time” only, event-specific and/or other similar websites, an Advertiser may place branded content, provided that it might reasonably conclude following review and evaluation of

comparable websites,

the proposed content of the website in question,

data provided by the publisher regarding the target audience, and

any other relevant factor, that it would be reasonable to project that the demographic audience for the site will exceed the threshold specified at Clause 8.

10. Advertisers  shall only offer Download Content on marketer owned websites, which are subject to age-affirmation restricted access. All Download Content shall be subject to a Download Advice Notice. All Download Content in video format shall have inserted or embedded at the start a pre-roll frame advising the viewer that the download content is intended for adults aged 18 and over.

11. The content of third party sites used by Advertisers  to place their commercial communications messages shall be consistent with the spirit of these Common Standards.

Compliance and Post Audit

12. A placement will be considered compliant with this guidance if it satisfies any of the criteria set out in Clause 9.1 through 9.5. Advertisers agree to adjust future placements (by  cancellations, schedule adjustment or other) in cases when a post-audit review shows non- compliance with this guidance.

13. Advertisers will strive for including a privacy policy on all their brand and product promotion websites dealing with the information related to customer’s and merchant’s private profiles. These policies should address the use of personal information - particularly personal information collected via the website - details of what personal information is collected, how the personal information may be used, the persons to whom the personal information may be disclosed, the security measures taken to protect the personal information, and whether the website uses cookies and/or web bugs.

The exact contents of a privacy policy will depend upon the applicable law, as there may be significant differences from country to country. 

3. Explanatory comments

Compliance Mechanisms

Syndicated data can be obtained through audience composition data based upon the most recent three months site average of available audience data of unique visitors (where seasonal fluctuations are evident prior year data should also be taken into account, if available).

Given that the methodologies and measurements of the Internet are evolving, this data source guideline will be reviewed as further developments warrant and, if appropriate, will be revised accordingly.

In relation to clause 9.4, the publisher gateway or barrier shall be at least as technically robust as age affirmation gateway pages commonly found on Advertisers’ own branded Internet sites.

In relation to Download Advice Notices, the format of these is to be at the discretion of the Advertiser, to allow for communication in brand voice, and may appear either on the face of the page from which the download is offered, or as a pop-up or similar click-dependent advice.

In relation to Clause 7 regarding “easily identifiable to the reasonably attentive viewer as a communication of a commercial nature”: EU legislation gives specific rules concerning the disclosure of the commercial nature of parties on the internet.

The EU Directive on electronic commerce (2000/31/EC) and the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (2005/29/EC) provide for the following relevant rules:

Directive 2000/31/EC on electronic commerce:

Art 2, (f) on the definition of commercial communication: any form of communication designed to promote, directly or indirectly, the goods, services or image of a company, organisation or person pursuing a commercial, industrial or craft activity or exercising a regulated profession.

Section 2, Article 6 on the Information to be provided:In addition to other information requirements established by Community law, Member States shall ensure that commercial communications which are part of, or constitute, an information society service comply at least with the following conditions:

(a) The commercial communication shall be clearly identifiable as such;

(b) The nature or legal person on whose behalf the commercial communication is made shall be clearly identifiable;

(c) Promotional offers, such as discounts, premiums and gifts, where permitted in the Member State where the service provider is established, shall be clearly identifiable as such, and the conditions which are to be met to qualify for them shall be easily accessible and be presented clearly and unambiguously;

(d) Promotional competitions or games, where permitted in the member state where the service provider is established, shall be clearly identifiable as such, and the conditions for the participation shall be easily accessible and be presented clearly and unambiguously.

Directive 2005/29/EC on Unfair Commercial Practices - Annex I on Commercial practices which are in all circumstances considered unfair(so-called black list):

(22). Falsely claiming or creating the impression that the trader is not acting for purposes relating to his trade, business, craft or profession, or falsely representing oneself as a consumer.

The “downloads” provisions in Clause 10 are only applicable to brand and product promotion websites and web pages and not to corporate sites.

Media and Commercial Communications Techniques Covered by the Guidelines for Internet Marketing

Please note this is not an exhaustive list but examples of current media and techniques that might change given the rapid technology developments on the Internet.

Audio and Music Sharing sites: imeem, The Hype Machine,, CCMixter

Banner ads

Blogs: Livejournal, TypePad, Wordpress, Vox

E-Mail marketing

Events sites:, Eventful

Instant Messaging

Livecasting: Ustream,, Stickam

Microblogs: Twitter and Pounce

Online gaming: World of Warcraft

Opinion sites: epinions, Yelp

Photo sharing: Flickr, Zooomr, Photobucket, SmugMug

• Podcasts

RSS feeds


Search Engine Marketing (SEM), Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

Social bookmarking:, StumbleUpon

Social News Sites: Digg, Mixx, Reddit

Social Networking: Avatars United, Bebo, Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace

Social network aggregation: FriendFeed, Youmeo

Wikis: Wikipedia, PBwiki

Video sharing: Vimeo, YouTube

Viral marketing

Virtual Worlds: Second life

Voice Broadcasting



Advertisers treat sponsorship with the same due diligence and great respect for maintenance of the high standards of responsibility that they apply to all other marketing disciplines.

Sponsorship for the purpose of these guidelines means any commercial agreement by which a sponsor, for the mutual benefit of the sponsor and sponsored party, contractually provides financing or other support in order to establish an association between the sponsor’s brands or products and a sponsorship property in return for rights to promote this association and/or for the granting of certain agreed direct or indirect benefits.

Specific guidance for alcohol beverage brand sponsorships

• The Common Standards along with these complementary guidelines apply to the overall sponsorship agreement, including any sponsored event material carrying the sponsor’s logo or trademark for the duration of the sponsorship agreement.

The consumer should clearly distinguish a given event as sponsored. The sponsor’s ad should be clearly distinguished from other forms of  Advertisers’ advertising and commercial communication. 

Advertisers should not engage in sponsorship agreements unless at least 70% of the audience for the event (meaning those attending the event and the audience for broadcast media coverage of the event) are reasonably expected to be 18 years of age or older. It is the sponsor’s responsibility to demonstrate that this requirement has been met.

Sponsorship by Advertisers to assist programs encouraging social responsibility or discourage underage drinking are not covered by the Common Standards and this guidance and shall not be in breach thereof.

Sponsorship in any field may be accompanied by an activity or message promoting responsible drinking behavior.

Advertisers shall require sports sponsored parties not to feature alcohol branding on children’s size replica sports items, but instead to offer such items without alcohol beverage branding.

No branded merchandise associated with a sponsorship should be aimed at those under legal purchase age or have a particular appeal to them beyond the appeal the merchandise has for the adult public.

Advertisers will not sponsor junior sports teams, junior sports leagues or junior cultural events, such as musical/talent contests or awards primarily for people under 18 years old (the term ‘junior’ meaning those under 18 years of age or under legal purchase age where this may be higher than 18). However, an adult oriented cultural or sports event meeting the 70% over-18 threshold (e.g., city orchestra or opera) may be sponsored even if it should turn out that a small number of the performers are under 18 years old.

With respect to sponsored sports or activities that could be considered dangerous, there should be no suggestion that players/performers consume alcohol before or while performing, or that alcohol consumption enhances their performance in any way.

Advertisers should ensure that external consultants, such as advertising, marketing, public relations and sponsorship agencies, are aware of the Common Standards and this guidance in particular.

Explanatory Notes


The measurement of broadcast and live audience will be based on – to the extent available – of age demographic data from a syndicated source, taking the average measure from the previous quarter.

Where demographic data is lacking (for example, for a sponsored art gallery event), members will seek alternative sources to determine what the demographics might be, such as;

Does the artist/performer have primary appeal to an adult audience?

Is 70% of the audience reasonably expected to be of legal purchase age and above?

 - Talk to the event organizer

 - Check the media/internet on previous exhibitions to become familiar with the work/music/performance

 - Look to demographics for comparable events

Responsible Drinking Message/Activity

The promotion of responsible drinking behavior may include for example that all advertising / promotional materials carry a responsible drinking message;

Additionally sponsored activities may offer an opportunity to raise awareness of what it means to drink responsibly by including, for example, information on standard drink measures, hints & tips on how to consume responsibly, responsibility advertising related to the sponsorship;

The specific responsible drinking activity around a sponsorship may depend furthermore on the scale and the importance of the activity. For example for a one-off event in an art gallery it may be sufficient to include responsible drinking messages into the promotion leaflet or the one-off advertisement / poster for the event. A sponsorship of a regional / national event may include responsible drinking messages in all promotion materials prior to and at the event. For a sponsorship activity of national / international scope or relevance and aired nationally and internationally on TV such activities might include responsibility print or TV advertising.