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Advertising Rules

Alcohol Action charity raises concerns over heavy advertising of zero-alcohol beverages

The charity is concerned that alcohol companies are increasing their marketing of non-alcoholic drinks in order to promote their brand.

PUBLIC HEALTH CHARITY Alcohol Action Ireland has raised concerns over the alcohol industry’s widespread promotion of their brands’ zero-alcohol drinks, suggesting the courts should consider whether it may amount to a “flouting” of advertising laws in some cases.

The charity is concerned that alcohol companies, which are bound by restrictions around the advertising of alcoholic beverages, are increasing their marketing of non-alcoholic drinks in order to promote their brand.

In Ireland, the Public Health (Alcohol) Act 2018 prohibits the advertising of alcohol in certain places like public parks and playgrounds, on public transport, and in or near schools.

It is also banned at sporting events and events aimed at children.

The Act defines advertising as “any form of commercial communication with the aim or direct or indirect effect of promoting an alcohol product”.

It says that includes:

  • “(a) (i) a statement of the name of a manufacturer or importer of an alcohol product, or the name of any brand of alcohol product, or (ii) a statement of any trade description or designation, or a display or other publication of a trademark, emblem, marketing image or logo, by reference to which the product is marketed or sold, in circumstances where such statement, display or publication may reasonably be regarded as a recommendation of the product to the public, and
  • (b) a statement of the properties of the product on a label, container, wrapper or package used for the product or in a leaflet, circular, pamphlet or brochure issued to the public or given to a purchaser of the product.”

Alcohol Action Ireland believes that the alcohol industry’s move towards advertising non-alcoholic beverages that they produce should be brought to the courts to receive clarity on the application of the law.

In a statement, CEO Dr Sheila Gilheany said that the legislation is “very clear, and while it’s open to the court to interpret, there is a very strong case to be made”.

“How can a brand use its logo and trademark yet claim its main product is not being advertised?” Dr Gilheany said.

“What is the point of our legislation if it is simply being overridden by commercial interests? These ads are being run during the day, which will also make a mockery of the broadcast watershed on alcohol advertising when it becomes operational from Jan 2025 if this is not addressed,” she said.

“We would be keen to find out if the HSE and/or the Department of Health is going to take action on this and if not, why not.”

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