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UK gets update on marketing code for minors

The UK’s alcohol social responsibility and marketing self-regulator, Portman Group, has updated its guidance regarding appealing to under-18s using advice from a children’s marketing agency.

Alcohol ban marketing minors
The guidance has been updated to better support the industry’s efforts in not appealing to minors

The updated guidance was put together with help from children’s marketing company Kids Industries, which issued a report at the request of the Portman Group: Marketing that appeals to under 18s.

The report reviewed advertising techniques used to appeal to children and teenagers outside of the alcohol industry.

Data from the Portman Group shows this is an area of importance to the trade. In 2022, 85% of complaints about alcohol marketing and packaging made to the Portman Group related to appealing to under-18s.

Plus, 29% of advice requests received by the body were in regards to ensuring products do not appeal to minors.

Matt Lambert, CEO of the Portman Group, said: “These insights are incredibly important to enhance understanding and application of the Code to ensure that we regulate effectively and protect under-18s from alcohol marketing.

“We have taken these learnings and updated our guidance on the Code rule, along with more recent decisions, and hope this will help the industry continue to market responsibly.”

The report gives insight into four key areas: child development stages, trends in kids’ marketing, appealing to children and considerations that might be useful in regards to alcohol marketing.

It picked out six advertising techniques used to appeal to children and teenagers in FMCG marketing: colour and clarity, character, brand licensing, name and logo, collectability, and flavour.

Gary Pope, co-founder and CEO of Kids Industries, said: “What children see matters. They are idea and information sponges, and from an early age they are influenced by the world around them.

“As marketers, it is essential to avoid accidentally appealing to under-18s, and it is an exceptionally good sign to see that the regulator wants to have the latest insights and we have again been pleased to share our expertise with the Independent Complaints Panel to support their understanding of marketing tactics.

“We hope the work strengthens their understanding and blocks any overreach into encouraging kids to drink.”

Last year, the Portman Group updated its guidelines for alcohol labels to include the low-risk drinking recommendations set by the UK’s chief medical officers.

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