Alcohol brands could lose multi-million pound sponsorship deals for sporting or music events if they do not promote responsible drinking, guidelines by the Portman Group have ruled.
The code of conduct sees formal requirement introduced to include messages promoting moderate drinking into advertising at events, as well as initiatives such as helping bar staff spot when people have had ‘too much’ or education of the dangers of over drinking.
Henry Ashworth, chief executive of the Portman Group, said: “This code is a first for the UK and will introduce a new and binding commitment for all drinks producers to promote responsible drinking through their sponsorship agreements.
“The new sponsorship code carries clear sanctions – producers risk significant reputational damage if they breach the new code both through negative publicity and the financial cost of having to renegotiate a sponsorship agreement or having to withdraw it completely.
“As many sponsorship agreements run over two or three years, the impact of this is significant.
“There will be some, of course, who call for an outright ban on alcohol sponsorship. But such calls ignore the key positive trends, the crucial role that brand marketing plays in supporting sport and the arts from grass-roots to elite level, and the lack of evidence that a ban would have any impact on problem drinking.”
The code, which was brokered by sporting bodies such as the Football Association, will also stress that alcohol manufacturers or brands cannot sponsor teams or competitors under 18.
Ian Twinn, ISBA’s Director of Public Affairs, said of the code: “The Portman Group’s rules on sponsorship are a very welcome addition to the existing ad codes. The sponsorship code augments the self-regulatory system we have in the UK, which encourages responsible marketing and responsible drinking.”