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The Digital Guiding Principles for Alcohol Advertising

The Digital Guiding Principles are the first global set of guidelines for alcohol advertising in digital and social media channels.

Signed by thirteen leading producers, DGPs are part of so called Beer, Wine and Spirits Producers’ Commitments, a self-regulatory initiative from the industry. Signatories of Digital Guiding Principles are Anheuser-Busch InBev, Bacardi, Beam, the Brewers Association of Japan, Brown-Forman, Carlsberg, Diageo, Heineken, the Japanese Spirits & Liqueurs Makers Association, Molson Coors, Pernod Ricard, SABMiller and UB Group.

How to implement Digital Guiding Principles (DGPs) for alcohol advertising in digital and social media channels?

Legal Purchase Age (LPA) confirmation.

Where possible, age-affirmation has to be based on combination of date of birth and country of residence check.

If you offer “remember me” option, it has to be followed with a disclaimer for users of shared computers.

If user does not meet the LPA criteria, the appropriate message and/or redirection to alcohol-related informational website has to be provided. It should not be allowed to simply go back or refresh and enter another date to access content of the branded communication.

If the platform or channel does not offer proper LPA check mechanism make sure, that following three conditions are met:

  • platform’s audience in the targeted market meets audience composition targets with at least 70% of the audience within LPA
  • an age disclaimer is placed to remind users that the content is intended for LPA users only
  • platform allows removal or moderation of inappropriate user-generated content.

Placement of alcohol beverage advertising and branded communication

All your content that does not actively engage user to interact with a brand (which technically does not allow for LPA check) has to be placed only in the media where you can reasonably expect proper target audience composition with at least 70% of the audience of the legal purchase age.

Forwardable content and content sharing

Whenever digital platform controlled by you allows content sharing, you should include a Forward Advice Notice (FAN) on the platform, clearly stating that the content should not be forwarded or shared with anyone under LPA in the country of viewing.

FAN should be visible or accessible through visible link on the platform and/or directly in the content of digital marketing communications. It applies for social media pages, mobile applications and digital direct marketing communications.

The Responsible Drinking Message (RDM)

Responsible Drinking Message which explicitly advocates responsible drinking has to be clearly visible in all digital marketing communications and platforms controlled by alcohol beverage company.

The RDM should be placed on the landing page. Additionally, a visible responsibility tab may be used on social media pages.

User Generated Content (UGC)

Any UGC posted on alcohol beverage controlled digital platforms should be moderated on regular and frequent basis. The frequency of the moderation should be stated in your company marketing code.

If you allow UGC on your digital platform, you should provide community guidelines stating the UGC policy.


Alcohol beverage digital marketing communications should not misrepresent their commercial purpose. Technically it means that WOMM is not allowed if it includes promoting brand falsely implying that communication is generated by ordinary consumer.


Respect user privacy. For digital marketing communications, alcohol beverage company should require prior consumer consent. An easy way to opt-out should be provided. Abide to all laws and regulations related to data collection and privacy in the country of activity.

The ICAP Guiding Principles

The ICAP Guiding Principles approved in November 2011 are still valid, the DGPs are complementary and intended to provide you with guidance dedicated to digital marketing communications. The documents should be read and applied in conjunction.


Download full text of Digital Guiding Principles (DGPs)

About Piotr Wrzosiński

Piotr Wrzosinski is a sociologist focused on digital marketing in highly regulated industries. He combines experience from top players in tobacco, financial services, and pharma with a passion to the content marketing and technology. All opinions posted are his own unless stated otherwise.

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