Guidelines issued for non-alcoholic drink ads to avoid ‘confusion’

Non-alcoholic product variants should not target children, watchdog rules dictate

Non-alcoholic drink intervention: Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland chief executive Orla Twomey

Non-alcoholic drink intervention: Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland chief executive Orla Twomey


New rules for the marketing of non-alcoholic drinks will oblige advertisers to make clear that these “product variants” do not contain alcohol, while the ads should also not appeal to under-18s, the advertising watchdog has said.

In new guidelines effective immediately, the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland said “there should be no scope for confusion” over the content of a drink. Consumers should be able to easily identify that the product being advertised is non-alcoholic.

The self-regulatory body said it had been moved to issue the guidelines by the emergence of more non-alcoholic products, which are typically sold by beer companies trying to tap into a fast-growing health-conscious market.

“It’s important that there is no confusion between these products and alcohol products, and that advertising contains no appeal to children,” said the watchdog’s chief executive, Orla Twomey.

While alcohol drinks must already comply with the watchdog’s code as well as statutory restrictions under the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018, little specific attention has been paid to date to non-alcoholic variants that may have similar branding, creating a possible loophole for advertisers.

The authority said if there was “absolutely no doubt” that a product variant was non-alcoholic, ads depicting activities considered a risk to personal safety if alcohol was involved were unlikely to be in breach of its code of practice.

However, non-alcoholic product variants should not target children through children’s media or via out-of-home advertising sites located close to schools, it warned.

Creative techniques that might “appeal primarily to children” should also not be used in ads, while people drinking in the ads should be aged 25 or over and appear to be so. This is the rule that already applies to ads for alcoholic drinks.

“Advertising should not appeal to minors in either placement or content,” the authority has told advertisers of non-alcoholic products. It said its guidelines were being published in the best interests of consumers, the advertising industry and Irish society.