Tuesday, 27 April 2021 15:30

On your Behalf: New requirements for alcohol advertising and promotion

Written by Sarah Wilson
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The Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol recently underwent a lengthy review and consultation process.

Its replacement, the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code, applies to new advertisements from 1 April 2021, and to all advertisements from 1 July 2021.

The new Code

There are a number of significant changes in the new Code. The Code applies broadly to advertisements that are for the purpose of promoting alcohol.

  • An advertisement covers lots of things, but includes radio, print, out- of-home, cinema, digital, websites, your social media pages and even your product labelling. It also includes ‘usergenerated content’ over which you have control (eg, posts by people on your Facebook page). The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) expects advertisers to monitor user-generated content on their sites and remove anything that does not comply with the law or with the Code.
  • The Code applies to advertisements which are for the purpose of promoting alcohol. This includes promoting alcohol products, brands, producers, importers, distributors, retailers and premises. We expect this ‘purpose test’ is a low bar, and that most (if not all) activities of our members will be captured.
  • The Code also covers zero alcohol products if the products resemble alcohol products (eg, brand extensions).

If the Code applies, there are a lot of specific requirements that are engaged. In general terms, the Code is focused on placement (where you put your ads) and content (what you put in your ads).

New rules in the Code include:

  • Minors (anyone under 18) cannot be shown. This is a significant change from the previous code, where minors could be shown in places where they would normally be found (eg, at a family barbeque). We know that some family businesses in particular have previously used children in their advertising – this will not be permitted under the new Code.
  • Women who are visibly pregnant or breastfeeding cannot be shown.
  • The Code includes specific guidelines on how to ensure advertising targets adults only (eg, how to adjust the settings on your Facebook page).
  • While people shown in your advertising must usually be 25 or older, you can now show 18-24-year-olds in your advertising if they are:
    • real people in real situations (ie not a paid actor);
    • your staff who are employed to serve or offer wine samples; or
    • part of a crowd scene from an R18 event, with appropriate appearance and behaviour for people that age and older.

There are also special rules for Alcohol Sponsorship Advertising and Promotion (ie, advertising that promotes the sponsored party).

Even if the Code does not apply, all advertisements are still subject to the general Advertising Standards Code, and advertisers must act with a due sense of social responsibility to consumers and safety. In addition to the Code, there are many other legal obligations that apply to alcohol advertising. This covers everything from the Food Standards Code to the Gambling Act and the Fair Trading Act.

Sarah Wilson is Senior Legal Councel at New Zealand Winegrowers.

More information

You can view the new Code in full at asa.co.nz. We expect to develop additional guidance over time as the first complaints are dealt with under the new Code. On 25 March, New Zealand Winegrowers (NZW) held a webinar with more information about the changes in the new code. The recording of the webinar and slides are available to view on the members page of the NZW website (nzwine.com/members/events/webinars/asa-code/). This includes specific guidance on how you can introduce ‘age gates’ or age targeting on various social media platforms. If you have any queries about the requirements for your alcohol advertising and promotions, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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