BCAP consultation: broadcast advertising of alcohol

United Kingdom

Health & dietary claims on broadcast alcohol advertising

Regulatory food labelling and trade description restrictions apply in the same way to alcohol products as they do to any food products. However, alongside these and any further restrictions of health and nutritional claims on food, it is being proposed that codes of practice on broadcast advertising of alcohol be further restricted.

Already there are general prohibitions in both TV and Radio advertising rules (that the consultation proposes are combined in the following form) that advertisements must not suggest that alcohol has therapeutic qualities nor offer it as a stimulant, sedative, mood-changer or source of nourishment, or to boost confidence. Although they may refer to refreshment, advertisements must not imply that alcohol can improve any type of performance. Advertisements must not suggest that alcohol might be indispensable or link it to illicit drugs. 

The consultation further proposes restrictions along the following lines:

"Advertisements may state the number of calories per unit of alcohol. They may state the number of grams of carbohydrates per unit but only if the number of calories per unit is also made clear.  Factual comparisons with other products are acceptable but no other statements of nutritional content are permitted.  Alcohol must not be advertised in a context of health or fitness."

The consultation on health and dietary claims ends on Monday 6 June 2005.

For further information please click here.

Guidance Notes for the Revised TV Alcohol Advertising Rules

BCAP is also consulting on guidance to the new Ofcom revised rules that came into force on 1 January 2005. 

In short, the rules particularly restrict any strong appeal to under 18's, strengthen restrictions on sexual content or links and restrict showing any daring, aggressive, irresponsible or anti-social behaviour plus they include the requirement that alcoholic drinks must be handled and served responsibly.

Guidance notes to help interpret and apply the revised alcohol rules were originally included in Ofcom's proposals but, in response to consultation comments, Ofcom removed most of them and asked BCAP to draft a replacement set, subject to consultation and Ofcom's final approval. The consultation on the new guidelines ends on Monday 11 April 2005.

For further information please click here.

BCAP Consultation

To see the whole consultation please click here.

Non-Broadcast Codes

The Non-broadcast advertising CAP and Portman Groups' Codes do not expressly refer to dietary claims in the context of alcoholic drinks. They prevent advertising encouraging immoderate or irresponsible consumption or suggesting that an alcohol product can enhance physical performance.

Comparison of Approach between Broadcast & Non-Broadcast

Michelob ULTRA beer advertisement poster was adjudicated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and television commercial by the Broadcast Advertising Clearance Centre (BACC) in September 2004.

The ASA found, because it contained images of joggers, that a poster for Michelob Ultra "low-carbohydrate" and "low-calorie" beer was irresponsible, because it implied that drinking the beer could help maintain health. For more information please click here.

The BACC however held the television commercial suggested that if people related to the lifestyle shown in the advertisement then they might consider drinking Michelob ULTRA as an alternative to other beers. As the TV advertisement showed refreshment after a physical activity and the two were shown separately with no enhancement of activity, it was held there was no health benefit claim. For more information please click here. This will open a PDF in a new window.

Now the CAP (Broadcast) and CAP (Non-broadcast) are both independently administered by the ASA, and with the proposed strengthening of the broadcasting code that alcohol may not be advertised in the "context" of health or fitness, it is likely that any television adverts linking alcohol and health in any way will be subject to yet further scrutiny and possible censure.