BRUSSELS: Major advertisers in the alcoholic drinks sector are joining forces to create and monitor common standards for responsible advertising and marketing practices in the European Union.

Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bacardi, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg, Diageo, Heineken, Pernod Ricard and SAB Miller have all signed the new agreement, called the Responsible Marketing Pact.

"This is a unique case of our industry pooling its collective resources and experiences to build common alcohol marketing standards that will stand the test of time," said Andrew Morgan, President of Diageo Europe. "The pact represents a major milestone in responsible marketing."

The member firms deliver over 50% of regional alcoholic drinks adspend, and will work with the European Union, national authorities and the World Federation of Advertisers to develop shared principles.

Stephan Loerke, the WFA's managing director, said: "Today marks a turning point in the long-standing commitment of alcohol beverage producers to responsible marketing."

One goal of the Pact is to stop underage consumers from seeing drinks marketing on social media. Collective procedures will thus be set covering areas such as age controls, Facebook sponsored stories, user-generated content and sharing functionality.

More broadly, the alliance will establish a common adult demographic to limit the potential of minors being exposed to inappropriate brand messages.

The "baseline standard" demands that ads can only be placed in media where at least 70% of the audience may be "reasonably expected" to be above the legal age to purchase alcohol.

"Alcohol beverage producers take seriously the expectations from our consumers and society at large that our marketing communications must respect the highest standards," said Jean-François van Boxmeer, CEO of Heineken.

Elsewhere, the Pact is to prohibit ads featuring content that is "particularly attractive" to minors, with related guidelines and enforcement to be consistent with the "letter and spirit" of such rules.

"By setting self-regulatory standards that go significantly further than the law, and verifying that these are complied with, we will make a tangible difference to the governance of beverage alcohol
marketing," said Christian Barré, CEO of Domecq Bodegas, Pernod Ricard.

Once the standards have been finalised, compliance and implementation will be independently monitored by Accenture, the consultancy, and national advertising self-regulatory organisations across Europe, with the results being publicly reported.

Data sourced from World Federation of Advertisers; additional content by Warc staff