Ofcom moots updating alcohol ad law

By John Tylee, campaignlive.co.uk, Friday, 23 July 2004 12:00AM

Ofcom is poised to plug loopholes in TV regulations that are being exploited by alcohol advertisers and their agencies.

Alarmed about what it believes to be consistent flouting of the rules and under pressure from ministers to take action to curb binge drinking, the watchdog wants to tighten up the rules to stop ads linking drinking to sexual success or appealing to youths.

At the same time, some of the restrictions are likely to be liberalised to reflect changing times. Ads showing drinking at work will be allowed within reason, as will alcohol consumption as part of a family occasion.

Ads will also be allowed to feature somebody buying a round of drinks.

Ofcom is seeking comments on its proposals with a view to them being agreed when the Advertising Standards Authority adds TV to its remit in November.

Ofcom chiefs are keen to put a stop to TV scripts designed to sidestep the rules. Of particular concern have been alcohol ads that avoid censure despite linking brands to sexual success because they do not feature the product being drunk. Non-broadcast rules prevent this happening.

There is also mounting concern that rules governing the promotion of alcohol on TV have been interpreted too liberally. Although more than 500 alcohol commercials were screened in 2002, not a single complaint against them was upheld by the Independent Television Commission.

Among the ads under fire were McCann Erickson's film for Bacardi featuring Vinnie Jones and Leith London's Carling spot showing a man cleaning the floor with his tongue.

This article was first published on campaignlive.co.uk


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