Distilled Spirits Council Issues Updated Code of Responsible Advertising and Marketing Practices

–Includes updated buying guidelines for podcasts and social media platforms–

WASHINGTON — The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) today issued updated buying guidelines for its Code of Responsible Practices to address the increasing use of podcasts and social media to advertise and market spirits products to legal age adult consumers. (Click here to view the Code)

First adopted by the spirits industry within months of the repeal of Prohibition, the Code is a set of voluntary guidelines for the responsible placement and content of beverage alcohol advertising and marketing materials.

“These latest enhancements to the Code provide updated media buying guidelines to better reflect current marketing practices and today’s technology,” said Courtney Armour, DISCUS Chief Legal Officer and Code Review Board Liaison.

Among the updates:

  • New buying guidelines for all paid and unpaid podcast placements made by or under control of the advertisers.

Advertisers should use reliable, up-to-date audience composition data, including syndicated data sources to ensure the podcast meets the demographic standard of the Code where at least 71.6% of the audience is reasonably expected to be 21 or older. Since audience composition data for podcasts is limited, the new guidelines also provide a content review process for those that do not have reliable data available.

  • Distinct buying guidelines for social media platforms.

A specific section on social media has been added to the buying guidelines to clarify the requirements for meeting the adult demographic standard in the Code. The policy has not changed, rather the section provides more clear direction for this increasingly popular forum for advertising.

“Marketing activities are in a stage of evolutionary development, where new trends are occurring rapidly,” added DISCUS Code Review Board Chair Mary Barrazotto, SVP, Deputy General Counsel at Brown-Forman.  “The spirits industry remains committed to regularly reviewing the Code and making updates as necessary to ensure its guidelines keep pace with the modern marketplace.”

Through the voluntary provisions of the Code, DISCUS members have held themselves to a standard higher than mandated by any law or regulation. Over the decades, there has been 100 percent compliance by DISCUS members with Code Review Board decisions and overwhelming compliance by non-DISCUS members.

The FTC has commended the Code on numerous occasions and cited it as a model. In each of the Commission’s intensive reviews of beverage alcohol advertising, the FTC has confirmed that spirits ads are directed to adults and that self-regulation through the industry Code is working.