Rules on Responsible Commercial Communication for Beer

The BR Code

 

  1. Preamble

Beer, when responsibly consumed is compatible with a balanced and healthy lifestyle and is enjoyed in a responsible way by the vast majority of consumers.  As responsible brewers we want to ensure that beer marketing is directed only at those above 18 y.o.  and is carried out with sufficient regard so as not to encourage excessive or irresponsible consumption.

The provisions of these Rules on Commercial Communications for Beer are the basis for the assessment of actual activities pertaining to commercial communications. This allows the brewing industry to develop commercial communications for beer in a creative manner and in line with brand values such as:

  • drinking as a pleasurable personal or social experience;
  • drinking as a social activity, and responsible consumption as a source of enjoyment and relaxation;
  • responsible consumption as part of a healthy lifestyle for vast majority of consumers;
  • drinking should done with moderation;

To maintain consumer confidence, it is in the interest of the brewing industry to ensure that its commercial communications are properly regulated, so that they are seen to be legal, decent, honest, truthful and socially acceptable.

 

  1. Scope

The aim of these rules on commercial communication for beer is to ensure compliance with and implementation of the letter of it and to improve – if and where is needed – commercial communications so as not to offend our audience or even come close to crossing the line between appropriate and inappropriate communications.

Like all other commercial communications for other products, beer promotions should:

  • always be developed, implemented and managed responsibly;
  • always comply fully with applicable laws, regulations and self-regulatory codes;
  • never be aimed at minors (people under the legal purchasing age);
  • never encourage violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behavior;
  • never encourage drink and driving association or alcohol misuse;
  • never demean any group in society or offend accepted standards of taste and decency.

All corporate and brand-related websites should ask for confirmation of age on the homepage, inviting users to enter their date of birth and consequently refusing access to those below the legal drinking age.

These rules apply to all commercial communication channels and all media, including the internet and digital media of any kind that are used to transmit commercial alcohol-related marketing communication to the customers.

If there is no legal requierement, any commercial communication through video materials, print materials, or any other outdoor communication that allows text insertion, a responsability message must be included, wherever appropriate, starting with 1st of September 2009. The provision is applicable to all materials created/ produced after that date.

It is recommended however, to insert a responsible consumption message on the labels’ surfaces which allow text insertion.

 

III. Basic principles

Commercial communication must:

  • be legal, decent, honest and truthful, conforming to accepted principles of fair competition and good business practice;
  • comply with all legislative and regulatory requirements in force ;
  • be prepared with a due sense of social responsibility and good faith and fairness;
  • not be unethical in any way or otherwise offend or impugn human dignity or integrity;
  • people should not be portrayed in ways which degrade them and deprive them of dignity, or in situations where they degrade themselves by their behavior;
  • be mindful of sensitivities relating to culture, gender and religion.

 

Like all other commercial communication promotions should:

  • always be developed, implemented and managed responsably;
  • always comply with applicable laws, regulations and self-regulatory codes;
  • never be aimed at minors (people under 18);
  • never encourage violent, aggresive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behavior;
  • never encourage drink driving or alcohol misuse;
  • never demean any group in society or offend accepted standards of taste and  decency.

 

Explanatory notes

General:

1. The purpose of any commercial communication should be to promote a particular brand and not the effects of alcohol;

2. “Legal” and “conforming to principles of fair competition and good business practice” means that commercial communications should comply with both the letter and spirit of all national rules, regulations, laws and business practices;

3. Definitions of what is “decent and acceptable” vary from culture to culture, even between age groups. The context is often all-important: treatments which could be considered offensive by an older audience may be acceptable if targeted carefully for a younger audience above the legal drinking age;

4. “Decent” is also closely linked to concepts such as violence, or dangerous, unethical or irresponsible behavior. These should be avoided at all times and so should be gratuitous and demeaning use of sexual imagery, messages and innuendo;

5. “Honest”, “truthful”, “fairness and good faith” relate to integrity of our messages: we should never lie or present facts about our product that are untrue;

6. “Ethical” means that our actions must be true to the spirit of our rules on responsible commercial communication. It is unethical to try to find loopholes and ways around these rules, or to act in defiance of generally held moral principles, even if such actions are not expressly prohibited by these rules;

7. Respecting “human dignity and integrity” means that people should never be portrayed in a degrading way or asked to degrade themselves;

Promotions

No one should be prohibited from participating in any promotion on the basis of their race, sexual orientation, religion or political inclination.

 

1. Responsible Drinking

1.1. Commercial communication shall not depict or encourage excessive or irresponsible consumption, nor present abstinence or moderation in a negative way.

1.2. Commercial communication will not portray individuals in a state of intoxication or imply in any way that intoxication (drunkenness) is acceptable.

1.3. Commercial communication shall not encourage violent, aggressive, dangerous or antisocial behavior (crowd or public disorder), or any association with illegal drugs or drug culture.

1.4. Commercial communication shall not include pregnant women shown drinking and should not be directed to pregnant women.

1.5. Commercial communication may not suggest consumption of beer under circumstances that are generally regarded as irresponsible or improper, e.g., proceeding or during driving, at work or practicing sports - except non alcoholic beer.

1.6. Commercial communication may not suggest phisical prowess, power, or strenght as a result of consuming alcohol beverages.

1.7. Commercial communication will not encourage irresponsible consumption of beer, either through volume, time span or in any other way.

1.8. Commercial communication will not present abstinence or moderation in a negative way. There are situations or times when consuming alcohol beverages may not be appropriate, and we will always respect an individual’s choice not to drink.

 

Explanatory notes

Overall information:

1. Never encouraging “excessive or irresponsible consumption” means that our communications must not encourage people to drink beyond safe personal limits or in an anti-social manner. Consumers must never be encouraged (or shown in our communications) to exceed sensible drinking guidelines or drink sufficient volumes to lose their self-control (never show or imply a situation where somebody is, or is likely to become, intoxicated). Never show a situation which suggests that a large quantity of beer has been, or is about to be, consumed. Always make sure that the amount of beer shown is appropriate to the number of drinkers present.

2. Showing people drinking from the bottle is acceptable, but our communications must not imply that a bottle or the full glass is downed in one.

3. People should not be challenged to drink: we must show respect for “abstinence and promote moderation”. People who choose not to drink or who drink limited amounts, should not be disparaged, ridiculed or portrayed in a negative light – for example „uncool”.

4. Athletes and actors may not be shown consuming alcoholic beverages before or during any athletic event or other endeavour requiring exceptional physical ability, power or strenght, except non alcoholic beer.

5. General sports sponsorships that features brand logos or slogans are acceptable as long as there is no suggestion that alcohol consumption contributes to athletic success, except non alcoholic beer.

6. Responsible consumption also means drinking in circumstances that are safe. Never show people drinking in situations where it is unsafe to do so. This goes further than drinking and driving: handling any sort of machinery, or mountaineering or rock-climbing, using a boat or a jet-ski, even swimming, etc.

Regarding promotions

  • Promotions should not refer to “drinking games” that encourage excessive or irresponsible consumption.
  • Promotional activities and messages should never encourage consumers to engage in risky or potentially dangerous activity.
  • Promotional activities implying tasting shall be avoided in petrol stations, except non alcoholic beer.
  • All promotions and promotional materials must not encourage irresponsible consumption or missuse of alcohol
  • If one of the activities presented at 1.6 is featured in advertising, it is important to establish that the drinking is done AFTER the activity has finished and, equally importantly, that the activity is not about to be resumed after drinking.

   

2. Minors

2.1. The commercial communication shall not be done so as to target persons under 18.

2.2. The commercial communication shall not present persons consuming beer if they are not, do not act or do not appear to be, within reasonable limits, older than 25.

2.3. The commercial communication shall not specifically target minors or present minors consuming beer.

2.4. The commercial communication shall not promote objects, images, attitudes or behaviors, symbols, characters (real or fictional, including cartoon characters or celebrities), games or gaming equipment, icons, music or other features that may be appealing particularly to persons under 18. 

2.5. The commercial communication shall only be broadcast in the printed media, on radio, television, cinema or in any other digital media form including the internet, social media and posts if at least 70% of the audience is expected to be of legal age to purchase alcohol. A placement destination shall be deemed reasonable provided that the assessment of the audience prior to the placement has met the placement requirements.

2.6. The commercial communication such as billboards, posters in bus stations etc. shall not be displayed in the vicinity and within the reach of schools, high schools, kindergartens, playgrounds or other places mainly used by persons under 18, on a 200m radius.  

2.7. The commercial communication such as the logo, the brand, the slogan used for promotion and the product’s commercial name shall not be authorized to be used on materials or products that are particularly used by persons under 18.

2.8. Internet websites operated or controlled by the members of the Brewers of Romania Association containing commercial communications on beer shall install an active filter to check the age of each user and shall ban access for those who have not yet attained the age of 18, and shall also include a message on responsible consumption.

 

Explanatory notes

Overall information:

1. The commercial communication shall not use objects, images, symbols, music, attitudes or behaviors, real or fictional characters that are particularly appealing or specific to minors;

2. The commercial communication shall not use familiar brands, names, logos, games, gaming equipment (items) or any other gaming items that are particularly appealing to minors;

Concerning promotions:

  • In the case of promotions, all members of the promotion teams must be over 18 years of age.
  • No promotion shall be addressed to persons under 18;
  • The content of the promotional materials and activities shall not be mainly addressed to persons under 18;
  • All necessary steps shall be taken to ensure that promotions do not allow consumption or tasting for those who have not attained the age of 18. The staff involved in the implementation of the promotion shall be instructed to not serve/refuse serving samples to persons who are not of legal age.

Internet and adjacent technologies:

  • With regards to internet announcements (commercials), text messages, internet websites, their content and adjacent technologies, all shall be designed to be addressed to adults. The websites belonging to companies and those dedicated to brands, promotions made by third parties shall be subject to the same rules. Any content that may particularly appeal minors must be avoided.
  • All websites of brands (owned, managed by them or related to the commercial promotion of the brand) must clearly state that access is only allowed to persons of 18 years of age. In order to ensure this, active filters (based on the full date of birth) should be installed on the websites of brands and those related to the brand.

Social media:

In order to protect minors against exposure to marketing communication for beer on social media and depending on the technical feasibility ensured by the social media provider, a mechanism to identify or check the age should be in place on all social media accounts assigned to brands and/or webpages and/or channels and/or profiles.

If the provider of a social media platform fails to provide any age confirmation mechanism, the marketing communication should be placed – only – if the following three requirements are met:

  • The audience of the social media provider in the country used as destination for the marketing communication should meet the objectives of the declared audience structure, where at least 70% of the audience is older than 18;
  • An age warning should be included that reminds the users that this content is only addressed to users older than 18;
  • The social media provider should ensure that a monitoring or removal mechanism is in place targeting improper user-generated content. 

Mobile applications:

The mobile applications can be downloaded from a variety of sources (i.e. Apple App Store), therefore, the introduction of an age identification checkbox is not necessary to guarantee that the users downloading applications are over 18. Thus, all downloadable applications should require the checking of the legal purchasing age (by providing the full date of birth and country) with the first launch of the application. No further age verification request is necessary.

 

3. Driving

3.1 Commercial communication should not directly or indirectly associate consumption of beer with the act of driving vehicles of any kind.

3.2  Commercial communications must never depict or encourage consumption of beer while or prior to driving motor vehicles of any kind – including speedboats, jet-skis, snow mobiles or aircraft.

3.3 If commercial communication features an individual arriving at a party or driving a vehicle before entering a bar, it must be made clear that this person will not be driving later.

 

Explanatory notes

Overall information:

1. Sponsorship of public transport and taxis is permitted.

2. The branding of the trucks and other motor vehicles (used for commercial purpose) is permitted.

Regarding promotions:

  • It is recomended to be particularly vigilant about participation of consumers who may drive following promotional activities – for example, after a supermarket tasting, or in cases when it is taking place at the venues closely linked with driving – for example highway restaurants or stores;
  • It is recomended the exposure of a „don’t drink and drive” or „don’t drive after drinking” message. Except non-alcoholic beer;

 

4. Health claims and alcohol content

4.1 Commercial communication shall not create any confusion or misunderstanding as to the nature and strength of beer.

4.2 Commercial communication shall not use high or low alcoholic strength as a positive quality of the beer.

4.3 Commercial communication shall not imply that abuse can be avoided by consuming beer with low alcoholic strength.

4.4. Commercial communication shall not attribute beer the property of preventing, treating or curing a human disease; associate or even refer to such property.

4.5. Commercial communication may not suggest that alcohol beverages should be consumed for potential net health benefits.

4.6. Commercial communication must never claim that beer has therapeutic qualities or that it is a stimulant, sedative or means of resolving personal conflicts;

4.7. Commercial communication may include factual information such as calorie or carbohydrate content so long as it is not linked to health benefits claim.

4.8. Commercial communication must never associate beer with pregnancy or target communications at pregnant women.

 4.9. Commercial communication must always ensure that packaging, marketing materials as well as advertising for alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions of a beer are recognizably different and distinctive.

 

5. Social & Sexual Success

5.1. Commercial communication shall not create the impression that the consumption of beer enhances or is a prerequisite for social acceptance or social success, sexual success or seduction, or promote or exploit sexual indulgence or permissiveness or portray nudity.

5.2. Commercial communication should not suggest that drinking can remove sexual inhibitions

5.3. Commercial communication shall not create an image of beer as a means to overcome problems of everyday life.

5.4. Commercial communication should not be discriminatory for any sex

 

Explanatory notes

Overall information:

1. Showing attractive people or featuring scenes in which men and women socialize is entirely acceptable.

2. Clothing and its appropriateness will always be judged in context in which it is shown (for example showing people wearing swimming suits by the pool or on the beach).

3. Social success means gaining status in the form of promotion, wealth, friends, possessions and popularity as well as gaining other people’s admiration or recognition of one’s achievements.

4. Generally the term “sexual success” is open to a number of different and not always mutually exclusive interpretations, but in our understanding commercial communication should not:

  • present beer as an aid to seduction;
  • portray drinking beer as a prelude to sexual activities;
  • present beer as an “accessory“to sexual activity.

 

6. Association with Hazardous Activities

Commercial communication shall not associate consumption with the operation of potentially dangerous machinery or with the performance of potentially hazardous activities, portray the act of consumption prior to or during activities or in locations which are potentially hazardous.

 

7. Free samples

Sampling is about offering consumers a positive brand experience that makes them want to buy the product. Offering any consumer more than one drink could be interpreted as encouraging irresponsible drinking.

The distribution of “free samples” is subject to the following rules”

  • Free samples may not be offered to minors (under legal purchasing age people) even with parental consent;
  • Free beer may only be offered in designated hospitality areas;
  • Samples must consist in one measure only (standard unit of 50 cl, which must be consumed at distribution point);
  • If anyone tasting a sample must be warned that the sample contains alcohol and provided with information about its strength;
  • If the sample is not consumed at the point of distribution recipients must be advised that it is for their consumption only and that they should not consume it before driving or give it to minors.

 

8.  Compliance and control

8.1. All “Brewers of Romania” members commit themselves to follow all of the above rules.

8.2. It is the responsibility of each member to ensure that their employees involved in all commercial communication, comply with the Code and that the Code becomes an integral part of the approval process for any commercial communication.

8.3. Compliance must also be secured as a pre-requisite when warding business to:

  • Advertising agencies;
  • Market research companies;
  • Agencies and media buyers;
  • Other external consultants and agencies.

 

9.  Monitoring of compliances

9.1. Anyone (individual, legal person or entity of the State) may refer to the Romanian Advertising Council on a commercial communication by submitting a written intimation against any member of the Brewers of Romania Association. This intimation will be sent directly to the Romanian Advertising Council, in attention of the president, copy to the executive secretary and, possibly, a copy to the General Manager of Brewers of Romania Association.

9.2. The Executive Secretary of the Romanian Advertising Council or the General Manager of the Brewers of Romania Association shall inform the member association against whom the complaint was made.

9.3. The complaint will be analyzed and judged by the Romanian Advertising Council Ethical Committee based on the Code of Commercial Communications of Romanian Advertising Council.

9.4. As the Code is recognized by the Members of the Brewers of Romania, consequently the decision of the Ethical Committee is to be applied.

9.5. Starting with 1st of July 2009 Brewers of Romania Association, based on information provided by the Romanian Advertising Council, will draw 2 half-yearly reports (in December and June) which will cover complaints made. The 2 reports will be published no later than 15 days from the end of each semester.

9.6. Between the Brewers of Romania Association’s website and that of the Romanian Advertising Council must be a connection, so that those who access the website of the Association be able, if there are irregularities observed in a commercial communication, to make and send a complaint with the forms on the site.

10. General Provisions

10.1. The Code is subject to changes at the recommendation of the members, with the approval of the Romanian Advertising Council’s General Assembly, at least once a year.

10.2. The Regulatory Committee of the Brewers of Romania Association oversees the procedures for amending the Code and prepares its final form, corroborating all suggestions for amendments approved by the Romanian Advertising Council’s General Assembly.

10.3. The members of Brewers of Romania Association must accept the Code in full, to act according to it, to observe and to be fully responsible for their actions, under the provisions of the Code.

10.4. A version of the Code is found on the website of the Association but also the site of at least one of the members of the Brewers of Romania Association http://www.berariiromaniei.ro.