With the number of advertisements we see on a day-to-day basis, it can be easy to forget it’s actually a pretty strictly regulated area. The type of advertisements and the times they are shown is something businesses have to consider closely as you don’t want to be in breach of any advertising laws

The regulations for advertising are particularly important when it comes to alcohol as certain types of content and products are not considered appropriate for all audiences.   

In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the regulations that apply to advertising alcohol so you can have a better understanding of your legal obligations. Keep reading to learn more. 

Alcohol Advertising Laws 

Australia’s approach to regulating alcohol-related advertisements is unique in the sense that it doesn’t take the traditional route of introducing a bill in parliament. Instead, alcohol is regulated by industry standards that have been set by alcohol companies.  

Every business looking to advertise alcohol must abide by the Alcoholic Beverages Advertising Code (ABAC). The code is a development of the Alcoholic Beverages Advertising Code Scheme, which sets the requirements for alcoholic advertising in Australia. 

Is Alcohol Advertising Banned In Australia?

Alcohol advertising isn’t banned in Australia. However, it is limited to ensure the advertisements cannot target certain audiences or convey particular messages. 

Even though the act of advertising alcohol isn’t banned in Australia, if a certain advertisement is in breach of the regulations, the business responsible for the advertisement can be ordered to take it down if it cannot be modified to meet the regulatory standards (we go in more depth about these later). 

Social Media Alcohol Advertising

Advertisement laws don’t just apply to traditional media such as televisions, print and radio. It also  covers social media. Any additional regulations or the questions of whether alcoholic advertisements are permitted on certain social media platforms is entirely dependent on the individual social media platform itself.  

This means you may need to look into the specific Terms and Conditions of the social media platform or the rules they have set out on their website. 

Can You Advertise Alcohol On Facebook?

Yes, facebook allows the advertising of alcohol on its platform with certain limitations. Firstly, the advertisements must follow the laws of the locality the advertisements are targeted for. For example, Facebook advertisements for alcohol in Australia need to be in line with the ABAC Code. 

Secondly, the advertisements cannot appear to be targeting people that are under the age of 18. 

Obviously, alcohol cannot be advertised on Facebook in countries where the consumption of alcohol is considered illegal. 

If you are thinking of advertising alcohol in places outside of Australia, it’s important to check the regulations of that region first and ensure your advertisement meets them before going live with anything. 

Tiktok Alcohol Advertising

Much like Facebook, Tiktok requires advertisements for alcohol to meet local standards. However, there are certain countries where advertising alcohol in any way is banned – be sure to check them out here

It’s also essential to point out that the regulations for alcohol on social media do not just apply to the direct consumption of alcohol. Alcohol advertising on social media can include events where alcohol is being sold, alcohol making kits, drinks that are seen as an alternative to alcohol and the promotion of brands that sell alcohol. 

Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) is responsible for the regulation of medicine and therapeutic goods in Australia. Under their regulations, the advertisement of certain therapeutic goods and substances are prohibited. 

Certain substances cannot be advertised at all, such as tobacco. This is due to the fact that tobacco does not meet the requirements under the TGA’s rules. Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) rules. 

The TGA has an impact on commercial advertising, therefore it’s best to get familiar with regulations such as the Therapeutic Goods (Therapeutic Goods Advertising Code) Instrument 2021

If your business deals with substances or alcohol in any way, it’s important to understand your obligations as set out by the TGA. We’ve put together this Guide To The Therapeutic Goods Administration

Can I Advertise Alcohol On TV?

Yes, alcohol can be advertised on commercial and SBS televisions. However, it can only be shown at certain times. The regulations for alcohol ads on television currently are as follows: 

  • After 6pm during sports programs, weekends and public holidays. 
  • 12pm and 3pm on school days
  • 8.30 pm and 5am on all other days
  • Ads are never to be shown during children programs or in the breaks immediately after them (C and P classified programs) 
  • Alcoholic advertisements also cannot be shown on subscription channels dedicated to children’s shows 

How Do Alcohol Complaints Work?

All complaints regarding advertisements are lodged with Ad Standards. Once a complaint is lodged, it triggers the investigation process. 

The ABAC Chief Adjudicator also receives a copy of the complaint (they are also free to deliberate on the advertisement). The ad is then reviewed according to the standards set out in the Australia Association of Nations Advertisers (AANA) Code.  

Once it has been reviewed, the owner of the advertisement receives an outcome for the investigation. If the advertisement meets regulatory standards, they are in the clear. If not, they may be required to alter the ad or remove it completely. 

AANA Code Of Ethics

Section 2.6 of the AANA Code of Ethics deals with advertisements that encourage the irresponsible use of alcohol consumption. When a complaint is made, it is considered alongside section 2.6 of the AANA code. 

Along with alcohol advertisements, the code deals with all kinds of advertisements in every industry. Specifically, it defines an advertisement to be something that deliberately draws the attention of the public with the marketing having a certain degree of control over it. 

However, it does not consider labels, media releases or program promotion to be an advertisement. 

What Laws Apply To Alcohol Advertising?

Different platforms will have varied rules when it comes to advertising alcohol. We’ve broken down some key regulations below. 

Australian Content and Children’s Television Standards 2020

The Broadcasting Services (Australian Content and Children’s Television) Standards 2020 have set the rules for when alcohol advertisements can be played around childrens’ televisions programs. As we mentioned earlier in the article, advertisements for alcohol cannot be played during or in breaks immediately after children’s TV shows. 

They also cannot be played during times where children are likely to be home from school and watching television. 

andards 202

Commercial TV Code of practice

The Commercial Television Codes of Practice covers matters such as material not suitable for broadcast, accuracy, limits and the standards for advertisements in general. If you plan on advertising alcohol, it’s important to be aware of these codes. 

Subscription TV Code Of practice

Likewise, if your advertisements are going to appear on any kind of subscription television, 

the Subscription TV Code of Practice is an important document to familiarise yourself with. 

According to the rules, no kind of alcoholic advertisements can be shown on subscriptions dedicated to children’s shows.   

SBS Code Of Practice

The SBS Code Of Practice applies to all shows and advertisements aired on the SBS channel. The code promotes a certain set of values the channel aims to uphold, meaning any advertisements created for SBS should follow this.   

ABAC Responsible Alcohol Marketing Code

As we’ve noted, the ABAC Code is one of the key pieces of legislation that needs to be followed by marketers of alcohol. The code can be accessed here and it covers matters such as: 

  • Responsibility towards minors
  • Depicting the impact of alcohol
  • The portal of alcoholic beverages
  • Alcohol safety  

Advertising Laws In Australia

In addition to being subject to the alcohol and advertising industries specific regulations, business owners advertising alcoholic beverages also need to ensure their advertisements meet other Australian regulatory requirements. 

The main regulatory framework for advertising in Australia is the Australian Consumer Law (ACL). 

Australian Consumer Law

The ACL is one of the main regulatory frameworks established to ensure that businesses do not engage in unfair trading practices or misleading advertising. 

This is because consumers are often placed in a less fair position and less bargaining power around the purchase of goods and services. So, the ACL protects consumers’ interests where a business can easily influence their purchasing behaviour in their own favour, 

As a business, some of your  advertising obligations under the ACL include: 

What Other Laws Apply To Alcohol?

It’s imperative that alcohol is dealt with responsibly, not just by those consuming it but also by those selling, supplying and making it. In order to manage this, there are many different types of alcohol-related licences that can be attained, depending on what your business activities are. 

Before you undertake certain tasks, such as selling alcohol at a restaurant, it’s important to hold the correct licence first as this could seriously jeopardise your business and its credibility with the public. 

A liquor licence allows a business to engage in the sale of alcoholic beverages. However, there are different types of liquor licences you can apply for, depending on the nature of your business. 

If you would like to know more, it’s better to discuss your liquor licence obligations with a legal professional.   

Key Takeaways

If you’re thinking of advertising alcohol, then it’s important to be aware of and comply with all the rules and regulations that apply. To summarise what we’ve discussed: 

  • Advertising alcohol is legal in Australia, however, it is subject to certain regulations
  • A primary regulation to follow around alcohol advertising is the ABAC code
  • Alcohol can be advertised on social media platforms if the site allows it. Australian regulations still apply as well as those of overseas regions (if you’re advertising there as well) 
  • The Therapeutic Goods Administration applies to your advertising practices of certain substances
  • Complaints are assessed according to the AANA code of ethics 
  • If your advertising alcohol on TV, then certain codes depending on the channel are relevant, such as the SBS code
  • It’s important that you understand your advertising obligations under the ACL
  • Other laws regarding alcohol, such as obtaining the correct liquor licence, should also be looked into 

If you would like a consultation on Australian alcohol advertising laws, you can reach us at 1800 730 617 or team@sprintlaw.com.au for a free, no-obligations chat.

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