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Court ruling cracks down on influencers promoting booze

A French court has ordered Instagram to remove 37 posts by influencers that have gone “beyond the legal framework” when promoting drinks brands.

Following a court case instigated by French organisation Addictions France, Instagram has been forced to take down posts from around 20 different influencers, who together have a combined 5 million subscribers on the social media platform.

The court agreed with Addictions France that the influencer posts allowed alcohol brands to reach large numbers of young people, given that under-25s make up a core section of social media users.

“It is clear that these publications, by associating images of festive moments, travels, moments of relaxation, vacations and the daily life of the account holders presented to a very important number of subscribers,” the court said.

The banned posts were found to clearly identify dozens of drinks brands either through hashtags or via the images used in the post. Among these were: Gray Goose, Heineken, Laurent Perrier, Havana Club and Apérol.

“By aiming to use the notoriety of Instagram account holders for the purpose of advertising alcoholic beverages, alcohol brands go beyond the legal framework referred to in the provisions of Article L3323-4 of the Code of public health and as such constitute illegal advertising,” the court said during its ruling.

Addictions France further claim that the influencers’ advertisements “incite excessive consumption of alcohol”.

The Meta group, which owns Instagram and Facebook, said: “We have applied the court’s decision, it is not final and could be appealed.”

It is not the first time that Addictions France has won a landmark case regarding alcohol advertising.

In December 2022, it was successful in a separate court case against FIFA football sponsor Budweiser for creating “a clear link” between beer consumption and the World Cup, causing the AB InBev brand’s advertisement to be banned.

Addictions France said it was clear that the campaign aimed to attract the attention of the general public, including the youngest, by associating the brand with the joy fans felt during the football tournament, as France made it into the final.

The landmark decision meant that from 11 December, and for a period of three months, AB InBev was forced to remove its advertising and any products on which those advertising elements appeared. Failure to do so, the court ruled, would lead to a fine of €1,000 per violation per day.

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