CAP and BCAP have published an interim statement on progress with their consultation regarding new rules and guidance relating to alcohol alternatives.

The UK Advertising Codes include rules that prohibit condoning or encouraging immoderate, irresponsible, or anti-social drinking. With the increase in popularity of alcohol free alternatives to alcoholic drinks, CAP and BCAP considered that the marketing industry and the public would benefit from new rules and guidance to bring clarity to how these products should be marketed. Although the products are considered to be non-alcoholic, ads for them often use imagery redolent of alcohol and often mention drinking occasions. As such, CAP and BCAP considered how these products should be marketed responsibly and how they intersect with alcoholic products covered by the Codes. 

The consultation was conducted earlier this year and contained new proposed rules to the CAP and BCAP Codes, one amended and one deleted BCAP Code scheduling rule, and new formal guidance on the marketing of alcohol alternatives. These covered definitions, misleading advertising and responsibility. 

Some responses highlighted some areas meriting further analysis and potential expansions to the guidance. CAP and BCAP will continue to develop their proposals with a view to finalising them in early 2023. Areas for further enquiry include “new drinking occasions”, in particular regarding depictions of pregnancy in ads for low or no alcohol products, as well as questions about the pros and cons of shared branding between full strength alcoholic drinks and alcohol alternatives.

The Committees are seeking expert input on these issues but not asking for further public views. Once they have completed this process, including asking Ofcom for approval for any proposed rules for TV and radio advertising, they will issue the final proposals. Watch this space.