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  • Richard Wardrop

Advertising alcohol on social media

Rules on alcohol advertising

Advertising alcohol is a hotly debated topic. Traditional channels such as TV, radio and newspapers have built up rules and regulations over a long period of time. However, social media is still relatively new, so the landscape is constantly changing across different countries. This can make things tricky when creating a social media strategy for an alcohol brand, especially if you’re looking to reach a global audience. We’re here to help make things clearer for marketers looking to advertise alcohol on social media.

What is restricted content?

Like TV, radio and newspapers, there are regulative bodies and government decisions which impact the rules of social media advertising. Firstly, there is prohibited content, which is a worldwide ban on the promotion of things like tobacco products, weapons or illegal services. Then there’s restricted content, which refers to dating sites, lotteries, real money gambling, online pharmacies, supplements, addiction treatments, weight loss plans or regimes and of course, alcohol. Unlike prohibited content, restricted content can be advertised on social media so long as you stick to the rules, which vary country to country.

Can you advertise alcohol on social media?

Is it completely banned in some countries?

Many studies have shown a link between alcohol ads and increased alcohol consumption, especially among young people who were previously non-drinkers. There are also considerations around local cultures and religion which affect the decision on alcohol sales and advertising.

Because of this, some countries have decided to ban alcohol advertising completely on all channels including social media. These countries include; Norway, Lithuania, Russia, Afghanistan, Brunei, Bangladesh, Egypt, Gambia, Kuwait, Libya, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

Finland also banned outdoor marketing of alcohol with 22% volume (ABV) and above and in 2015, introduced new laws for social media/online marketing prohibiting materials intended to encourage user-generated content, games, lotteries and contests.

Which countries can I advertise alcohol to on social?

Where can I advertise alcohol on social media?

The short answer; everywhere else. However, there are rules depending on where you’re targeting in your ads. The most prominent rule (and the one that’s most likely to get your social media ad approved or disapproved) is age restriction in different locations. If you’re ever unsure, you can find more details on the restricted advertising policy sections of Facebook and Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

The age restriction for advertising alcohol is 18+ in all permitted countries except the following:

Alcohol advertising age rules

*The maximum age restriction for advertising alcohol in India is 25 however, there are some areas where it’s as low as 18 and other areas where it’s banned entirely;

  • 25 years or older in Chandigarh, Delhi, Haryana, Maharashtra and Punjab.

  • 21 years of age or older in Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Dama and Diu, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Jharkhand, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya, Odisha, Tamil Nadu, Telengana, Tripura, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand or West Bengal.

  • 18 years or older in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, Mizoram, Puducherry, Rajasthan and Sikkim.

  • Prohibited in Bihar, Gujarat, Lakshadweep, Manipur and Nagaland.

Advertising alcohol in the UK

Advertising in the UK is regulated by the ASA who work with the government to set rules for marketers. The ASA state that alcohol ads shouldn’t;

  • Link alcohol with seduction, sex or social success

  • Link alcohol with irresponsible, anti-social, tough or daring behaviour

  • Show alcohol being served irresponsibly

  • Show people drinking and behaving in an adolescent or juvenile way, or reflecting the culture of people under 18 years old

They also state that alcohol ads shouldn’t encourage excessive drinking. Many brands will display a warning during their ad and on their social profiles encouraging followers to drink responsibly. The rules are mostly common sense, but if you’re ever unsure you can find all the details you need to keep yourself right on the ASA website.

Are there other rules?

Alongside age restrictions, there are other regulations to watch out for if you’re advertising alcohol around the globe. Here are a few of the most common rules to consider in your worldwide social media marketing campaigns:

In the US, alcohol brands can only advertise on online platforms where 71.6% of the audience is reasonably expected to be of the legal purchase age. The ads also can’t depict people who are or may be mistaken for being under legal age or promote alcohol in a way that could be appealing to underage drinkers. You also have to be conscious of user-generated content, alcohol brands are responsible for removing anything that could be considered inappropriate or promotes irresponsible or underage drinking.

In Australia, alcohol ads can’t show adults who are under 25 years old despite the legal drinking age being 18. In China, there are regulations against alcohol ads which suggest women will become more sexually confident by drinking.

Now you’re all set to start planning your alcohol brand’s global social media campaign! If you’re still unsure, get in touch to see how we could help.


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