Portman Group joins calls to stamp out sexist drinks marketing

The Portman Group is to launch a consultation on its code of practice for the advertising and promotion of alcoholic drinks in response to an “evolving marketing landscape”, which will include a review of its guidance on sexism in marketing.

Bourbon whiskey bottle and glass on wood barrel

Beginning in the spring, it will be the fifth review of the alcohol marketing watchdog’s code of practice, which offers producers guidelines on the appropriate naming, packaging and promotion of alcohol drinks, since its introduction in 1996.

Among other issues, the review will seek to define “immoderate consumption”, acknowledging that the UK chief medical officer’s decision to reduce the maximum recommended units to 14 for both men and woman had impacted on its assessment of complaints about irresponsible sampling promotions and packaging, such as a single-serve containers.

The review is also likely to result in the introduction of a new rule to address “serious and widespread offence, such as sexism in marketing”, and debate on how best to strengthen the in order to prohibit direct or indirect links with alcohol and any illegal activity.

“Alcohol producers are serious about their leadership role in tackling misuse and ensuring that their products are marketed responsibly,” said John Timothy, chief executive of the Portman Group. “We know that self-regulation works, driving up standards and holding producers to account – but to make sure it continues to do so the Code must evolve with new issues and challenges.

“This is our fifth review of the Code and we need to make sure it remains fit for the future. That means ensuring it continues to be responsive to changes in the marketing landscape, while also challenging producers to achieve the highest standards of social responsibility.”

Earlier this week the Society of Independent Brewers (SIBA) pledged to put discrimination at the top of its agenda as it looks to “formalise” guidelines against sexist beer advertising by establishing a Marketing Code of Practice.

The Portman Group was formed in 1989 with the sole purpose of promoting responsible drinking, helping to prevent alcohol misuse and to foster a balanced understanding of alcohol-related issues.

Funded by its eight member companies: AB InBev UK; Bacardi Brown-Forman Brands UK; Carlsberg UK; Diageo GB; Heineken UK; Jägermeister UK; Molson Coors Brewing Company UK; and Pernod Ricard UK. Its independent complaints panel regularly adjudicates on complaints received, with decisions made public in order to encourage producers to adhere to the code. The latest rulings from the Independent Complaints Panel can be read here.

The group is inviting anyone with an interest in alcohol and responsible marketing to register their interest in the consultation process and identify any further issues for consideration by emailing info@portmangroup.org.uk or tweeting @portmangroup.

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