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Drinks companies unite with digital leaders over alcohol marketing

Google, Meta, Pinterest, Snap, TikTok, and X have partnered with drinks companies to agree responsible online alcohol advertising standards.

The union, which is to support UN goals to tackle the harmful use of alcohol, has been spearheaded by the drinks companies that together form the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD). The partnership aims to build confidence in age-assurance systems online and to help ensure online alcohol advertising is directed only at adults who wish to engage with drinks brands.

IARD’s members include: AB InBev, Asahi, Bacardi, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg, Diageo, Heineken, Kirin, Moët Hennessy, Molson Coors Beverage Company, Pernod Ricard, Suntory Global Spirits, and William Grant & Sons. IARD’s associate members also include: The Coca-Cola Company and Lotte Chilsung Beverage.

In a statement, the IARD members and digital platforms announced their collective commitment to further enhance online safeguards and, where necessary, prevent those under legal purchase age inadvertently seeing alcohol advertising online and to provide confidence that age-assurance methodologies on digital platforms are robust by 2025.

As part of the deal, the digital companies have shared transparency reports that summarise the platform-specific safeguards particularly the policies and practices they have in place to assure age. Additionally, IARD members have reiterated that they are committed to creating positive experiences for adults who choose to interact with alcohol brands and promote moderate and responsible consumption among adults who choose to drink.

According to the collective, key outcomes that have been achieved, have meant that “hundreds of thousands of influencers around the world can now age-gate posts, leading global marketing and advertising agencies are signed-up to the first-ever global standards for influencer marketing [and] millions of advertisers can age-gate online marketing on digital platforms.”

IARD members are also said to be “on track to reach 95% compliance with ‘Digital Guiding Principles’ by end of this year” while “the five safeguards on brand channels include: age-affirmation mechanism, transparency, user generated content policy, forward advice notice, responsible drinking message”.

Speaking about the partnership and its objectives, Pernod Ricard CEO and IARD chair Alexandre Ricard said: “Social media is a critical element of our long-standing efforts to prevent minors seeing our marketing. We are pleased to have found some great allies in the digital platforms who have demonstrated their willingness to put effective age assurance in place. Ricard explained: “This global initiative shows how the private sector can come together to raise international standards of responsibility, and we call on others to join us.”

Describing the efforts to work together on the safeguarding initiative, IARD CEO and president Julian Braithwaite added: “Today’s new partnership between the world’s leading beer, wine, and spirits companies and the global digital platforms is an important milestone in the global effort to further prevent advertising and sale of alcohol to those underage, and it shows just what can be achieved when the private sector is effectively harnessed to deliver the UN goals to tackle the harmful use of alcohol.”

Also commenting on the partnership, each of the digital platforms issued a statement about their involvement in the partnership.

Highlighting the importance of the alliance, a spokesperson from Google said: “We take our responsibility to ensure age-appropriate advertising incredibly seriously and we are gratified that this group has come together to further promote responsible advertising practices across the industry.”

Describing its reasons for being involved, a spokesperson for Meta also explained: “We want people to have safe, positive experiences online and have spent a decade developing tools, features, and resources designed to protect people on our platform. Partnerships like IARD are a critical way for the industry to come together around aligned standards for the advertising of alcoholic beverages.”

Echoing this sentiment, a spokesperson for Pinterest assured: “At Pinterest, we’re focused on building a positive experience for everyone, including young people. This includes for the advertisements they see, and we’ve established robust restrictions for advertising of alcohol, including a prohibition against targeting minors.”

Also addressing the issue head-on, a spokesperson for Snap outlined: “Snap prohibits advertisers from targeting alcohol ads towards people under the applicable legal drinking age. We proactively embed safeguards into our processes for advertisers and provide Snapchatters of legal drinking age with the ability to opt out of alcohol ads.”

On behalf of TikTok, a spokesperson for the digital video platform stated: “We are committed to making sure that our community sees ads that are age appropriate. We take a number of steps to prevent alcohol ads and alcohol related content being seen by those under 18, and we welcome the partnership with IARD on this important issue.”

Lastly, illustrating the strides it has made towards parental controls, a spokesperson from the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter, added: “X collaborated with Internet Matters, an organisation launched with the specific intention of supporting parents and guardians to navigate the digital landscape, to develop a parental controls guide.”

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