A coalition of 13 alcohol producers and the World Federation of Advertisers recently released the Digital Guiding Principles (DGPs), the first-ever set of global guidelines for online marketing and social media use by alcohol beverage producers.

The DGPs were developed as part of the recent Beer, Wine and Spirit Producers’ Commitments to Reduce Harmful Drinking, an industrywide initiative to address harmful drinking, promote responsible consumption of alcohol beverages, and minimize the marketing of such products to underage audiences.

The DGPs apply to all branded alcohol beverage digital marketing communications, paid and unpaid, including social networking sites and blogs, as well as mobile communications and applications.

Seven principles are featured in the guidelines: (i) age affirmation mechanisms should always be used when engaging directly with consumers; (ii) where alcohol beverage companies are not directly communicating with consumers, they should ensure that the alcohol marketing communications are only placed in media that can reasonably be expected to meet stated audience targets, where at least 70 percent of the audience is of legal purchase age; (iii) where alcohol beverage companies engage on a digital platform that allows content sharing, they should include a “Forward Advance Notice” on the platform, which clearly states that the content should not be forwarded to anyone under legal purchase age in the country of viewing; (iv) a “clearly visible” responsible drinking message should be included in all communications; (v) user-generated content posted on the alcohol beverage companies’ digital platforms should be monitored on a regular and frequent basis for compliance with the DGPs; (vi) communications should be transparent and should not misrepresent their commercial purpose; and (vii) alcohol beverage companies should respect user privacy.

To read the DGPs, click here.

Why it matters: The Digital Guiding Principles “require the content of any online marketing to meet the same high standards that apply to traditional marketing activities,” the International Center for Alcohol Policies said in a press release. “They build on an extensive analysis of existing alcohol marketing self-regulation codes and aim to standardize them across companies, across markets, and across digital platforms to provide guidance for all digital marketing content produced by signatory companies moving forward.” Alcohol beverage companies should familiarize themselves with the DGPs, the latest effort by the signatories to the Producers’ Commitments to self-regulate the industry.