Portman Group warns alcohol brands not to be 'offensive' in ads

The Portman Group is asking brands to be increasingly sensitive around issues such as race, religion, sexual orientation and disability.

Portman Group warns alcohol brands not to be 'offensive' in ads

The Portman Group is clamping down on "offensive" drinks marketing in response to societal shifts, with a new set of rules decreeing that brands' name, packaging and marketing activity should not "cause widespread offence".

The alcohol body announced an updated, sixth edition of its "Code of Practice on the Naming, Packaging and Promotion of Alcoholic Drinks" following a consultation process. The code applies to all alcohol promoted or marketed by producers in the UK as well as joint promotions run in conjunction with on- and off-trade retailers.

Coming into effect in September 2019, the new legislation stipulates that "producers need to be careful when referencing race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, disability and age on packaging or promotional activity".

The updated code also adds protection of the vulnerable as an explicit "overarching principle of the code", while the organisation has said that a product should not contain any association with illegal behaviour and should not claim to "have mind-altering qualities or suggest that it will change mood or behaviour".

Meanwhile, the Portman Group has updated measures to cut excessive drinking, advising that single-serve, non-resealable containers should not be more than four units, "following the change in the CMO [chief medical officer] guidelines".

John Timothy, the Portman Group's chief executive, said: "There was strong support in the consultation to introduce a new rule around offence, showing that the industry understands that responsible marketing needs to evolve in line with changing standards in society."

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