UK Broadcast Watchdog Reveals Alcohol Ad Rules

03 November 2004

'No sex please, we're drinking' is the new maxim for alcohol ads in the UK.

Broadcast regulator Ofcom has unveiled "tough but workable" rules to which advertisers must adhere. They come in response to the growing problem of binge drinking and consequent hooliganism which is the bane of many British towns and cities.

From 1 January 2005, decrees Ofcom, alcohol ads may carry no implication that drinking makes you more sexually attractive; nor can they feature anyone buying drinks for groups of people, nor make reference to acts or impressions of "daring, toughness, aggression or anti-social behaviour".

Sad souls drinking on their own are a broadcast no-no, as is any suggestion that alcohol can make you feel better about life. Children can be neither seen nor heard and only those aged 25 or over can play any significant part in drinks commercials.

However, somewhat confusingly, children and teenagers will be permitted to appear in ads that show alcohol being consumed in a calm, family atmosphere.

ISBA (the Incorporated Society of British Advertisers) has welcomed the changes made since the guidelines were first drafted in July, when it complained they were "tough and unworkable".

The rules come into effect on January 1 next year with a "period of grace" until September 30 for ads already in production for next summer.

Data sourced from BrandRepublic (UK); additional content by WARC staff