The Alcohol Bill introduces extensive restrictions on content and placement of alcohol advertising. The placement restrictions proposed in the Bill ban drinks companies from advertising in public parks, in trains and bus stations, on public transport and within 200 metres of school grounds. The content restrictions ban the following imagery from being included in alcohol advertisements:
- Images of conviviality such as scenes in an Irish pub
- Images of a person consuming an alcohol product
- Images of people
- Images involving a story or action sequence – aside from the alcohol production process
- Images of animals.
“Although the principles behind the Alcohol Bill are well intentioned” commented ABFI Director Patricia Callan, “the impact of the advertising restrictions will have devastating consequences for the drinks industry in Ireland. The Bill will make it extremely difficult for all drinks companies to advertise their products – and is particularly harmful for small producers and new entrants who’ve invested heavily in breweries and distilleries across Ireland – and have less brand awareness.
“This Bill will make it extremely difficult to establish new products in Ireland and ultimately harms the drinks industry’s innovation, export and growth potential.”
The Alcohol Bill will also ban the iconic Guinness Christmas advert from being shown.
ABFI has already proposed a much more workable solution via the placing of the alcohol advertising codes on a statutory footing, with significant penalties for breaches.
“This could be implemented within a much shorter timeframe with a regulatory authority already in place,” pointed out Patricia Callan.
According to the World Health Organisation alcohol consumption has fallen by 25% in Ireland since 2005. This reduction has taken place in the absence of the advertising restrictions contained in the Alcohol Bill. Ireland already operates under strict Advertising Standards Authority of Ireland codes which ensure that alcohol advertising is responsible, advocates moderate consumption and is not directed at children. The ASAI code enjoys a high compliance rate and is also supported by non-terrestrial channels.
A recently-published report by economist Jim Power, The Potential Impact on Irish Media of the Public Health (Alcohol) Bill 2015, found that the Bill will result in a loss of €20 million annual advertising revenue to Irish media.
Irish media is already under significant financial pressure from declining advertising revenues, having experienced eight years of depressed revenues. The Bill will further undermine the ability of the media to deliver high quality media content and will lead to job losses in the area, she added.
Jim Power found that international research does not provide conclusive evidence that a ban or severe restriction on alcohol advertising would achieve the desired effect of reducing the consumption of alcohol and particularly consumption among young people.