COMMON STANDARDS FOR Alcoholic Spirits & Liquors


The rules in this section for the advertising and marketing communication of alcoholic spirits and mixed beverages specify and supplement the general standards of the National Code of Ethics for Advertising and Commercial Communication and have to be interpreted and applied in conjunction therewith.


The alcoholic beverages are beer, wine, and spirit drinks. The spirit drinks are products with alcohol content above 15 % ABV.  For the purposes of the Common Standards, ‘mixed drinks’ are products incorporating non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages in their contents and are generally low in alcohol. These Common Standards regulate the marketing communication of spirits and mixed drinks, hereinafter collectively referred to as ‘Beverages’.

Purpose of the Common Standards

Consumed responsibly, alcoholic beverages are enjoyable and part of a balanced lifestyle for modern consumers, however excessive or irresponsible consumption of alcoholic beverages can have negative consequences for both the individual and society as a whole. The purpose of these Common Standards is to ensure that advertising and marketing communication do not encourage or condone excessive consumption or abuse of Beverages.


Advertising and any other form of marketing communication of Beverages must be lawful, decent, honest, fair and truthful:

  • must not disregard any rule of law, must not contain elements that violate the law; must not encourage anyone to violate or circumvent the law – both literally and in its entire context;
  • must be prepared with a proper sense of professional responsibility and comply with the principles of fair competition and good business practice;
  • must be drafted with a sense of social responsibility and integrity;
  • shall be consistent in form and content with all nationally applicable ethical rules and codes of the industry and with the decisions and recommendations of the self-regulatory body.

No advertiser, marketing or advertising agency shall participate in the creation, publication or distribution of advertising or marketing communication that violates the National Ethical Rules for Advertising and Marketing Communication and these Common Beverage Standards and that has been deemed unacceptable by the Self-Regulatory Authority.

Owners of alcohol brands are encouraged to include in contracts and agreements relating to advertising and marketing communication a clause whereby the counterparty commits to abide by these self-regulatory rules and to voluntarily comply with enacted decisions, rulings and recommendations made by the ethics committee of the self-regulatory body.


1. Responsible communication

Alcoholic beverages and their consumers should be presented in advertising and marketing communication as responsible individuals with responsible social experiences.

1.1 Marketing Communication should not encourage or condone excessive or irresponsible consumption, nor present abstinence or moderation in any negative way.

1.2 Marketing Communication should not show people who appear to be drunk or in any way imply that drunkenness is acceptable.

1.3 Marketing Communication of Beverages should not suggest any association with violent, aggressive, illegal, dangerous or anti-social behaviour.

1.4 Marketing Communication of Beverages   must not indicate or create any association, perception of acceptability or allusion to the use of drugs and illegal substances.

1.5 Internet sites of manufacturers, importers, traders of beverages should provide a link to the information website on sensible drinking, namely:

2. Minors

2.1 Marketing Communication should not be aimed at minors nor show minors consuming Beverages.

2.2 Advertising and Marketing Communication should only promote Beverages in print and in radio and television broadcasts where at least 70% of the audience is reasonably expected to be aged 18  or older.  They should not be included in print publications and in radio and television broadcasts, or at events where more than 30% of the audience is known or reasonably expected to consist of persons under the age of majority.

2.3 Marketing Communication should not use models and actors who are not at least 25 years of age.

2.4 Advertising and Marketing Communication should not use objects, images, styles, symbols, colours, music and characters (either real or fictitious, including cartoon figures or celebrities such as sporting heroes) that may appeal to children or adolescents.

2.5 Advertising and Marketing Communication should not use brand identification such as names, logos, games, game equipment or other items of primary appeal to minors.

3. Drinking and Driving

3. Marketing Communication should not suggest that the consumption of Beverages is acceptable before or whilst driving motor vehicles of any kind, including speed boats, jet-skis, snowmobiles, and airplanes.

4. Hazardous Activities, Workplace & Recreation

4.1 The advertising and Marketing Communication should not suggest that the consumption of Beverages is acceptable before or whilst operating potentially dangerous machinery, or with undertaking any potentially hazardous recreational or work-related activity.

4.2 The advertising and marketing communication of Beverages must not suggest that alcohol consumption is permissible and/or portray drinkers as about to participate in sport or activities that require alertness and/or physical coordination.

5. Health Aspects

5.1 The advertising and Marketing Communication should not claim that Beverages may have therapeutic properties and that their consumption may help preventing, treating, or curing any human disease.

5.2 Where permitted by law, Marketing Communication using truthful and accurate factual statements about carbohydrate, calories or other nutrient content may be appropriate in some circumstances.

6. Pregnancy

6.1 The advertising and Marketing Communication should not show pregnant women drinking or aim at women who are pregnant.

7. Alcohol Content

7.1. The advertising and Marketing Communication should not create any confusion as to the nature and alcoholic content of Beverages.

7.2. The advertising and marketing communication of Beverages may present information to consumers on the alcoholic strength but must not highlight the high alcoholic strength of spirits as the main theme of the marketing communication for any brand.

7.3.  On the other hand, the communication should not imply that consumption of low-alcohol drinks prevents alcohol abuse.

8. Performance

8.1 The advertising and marketing communication of Beverages should not give the impression that the consumption of alcohol enhances mental or physical ability or has a stimulating effect, e.g., when engaged in activities that require concentration to be safely performed.

8.2. The advertising and marketing communication of Beverages should not suggest that alcohol consumption helps overcome shyness, anxiety, inhibitions, social problems and/or conflicts.

9. Social Success

9.1. Beverage advertising and marketing communication should not make assumptions that alcohol consumption is a necessary prerequisite for social approval or success.

9.2. Although alcohol consumption can be an enjoyable part of social life for healthy adult members of society, advertising and marketing communication should not suggest that non-use is synonymous with failure in people’s social, community or working lives.

10. Sexual Success

10.1 Under no circumstances should Marketing Communication be unethical, offend against generally prevailing standards of taste and decency or otherwise impugn human dignity and integrity.

10.2 The advertising and marketing communication of Beverages should not suggest that the consumption of alcohol enhances sexual ability, attractiveness or leads to sexual relationships.

10.3 Beverage advertising and marketing communication shall not contain or depict graphic or gratuitous nudity, overt sexual activity, promiscuity or sexually lascivious conduct through photographs, video or language. Such communication that relies on sex as part of selling the brand will in any event be unacceptable and sanctioned under the meaning of this Article.

10.4 Beverage advertising and marketing communication may portray affection, romantic settings, sociability and friendship, but should not suggest that these feelings are dependent on or generated by alcohol use.

11. Product positioning in media

11. Paid placement of Beverages in films, television shows, music videos, video games and similar formats must be made or rejected in accordance with the expected audience of the format as provided by the producers (70% of the audience to be over 18).

12. Events and sponsorship

12. Advertising and marketing communication for Beverages may also apply to events, tastings and/or sponsorships only if the latter are intended for an audience that is reasonably expected to be over 18 years of age in its 70%. For product events organised for or on behalf of manufacturers, importers and traders of Beverages which include tastings, it must be ensured in advance that appropriate measures are taken to prevent underage drinking.


The main purpose of the current rules on beverage advertising and marketing communication is not to replace existing national systems of regulation, but rather to provide common criteria to be met by national industry self-regulation mechanisms and individual company rules.

Control mechanisms must ensure that the advertising and marketing communication of Beverages reaching the market are compatible with the COMMON STANDARDS and their applications. In case of doubt about compliance with the COMMON STANDARDS in a specific Beverage advertising/communication project, advertisers should seek advice from the National Council for Self-Regulation. An online portal is also available at:

Complaints based on/affecting breaches of these rules are dealt with by the National Council for Self-regulation (NCSR), itself a member of the European Advertising Standards Alliance (EASA). In the case of cross-border complaints, they may use the mechanisms established by EASA.


The Common Standards are further clarified and explained in the attached Annexes that include specific guidance:

1. For promotional activities at points of sale (Annex 1)

2. For activities related to the Internet, digital communication channels and mobile phones (Annex 2)

3. For use of personal data (Annex 3)

For more information on responsible advertising and marketing communication, responsible consumption and self-regulation of beverages, please visit:

Annex 1 



These Guidelines for Responsible Promotions are an integral part of the Common Standards for Marketing Communication of beverages. They apply in addition to the Common Standards and should therefore be interpreted in conjunction.

Promotions are an appropriate and valuable marketing tool to:

• enhance customer awareness of a product/brand;

• showcase a new product/brand.

As with all marketing communication, promotions should:

• be developed, implemented and managed responsibly;

• never be aimed at underage drinkers;

• never encourage violent, aggressive, dangerous, anti-social or illegal behaviour, drink driving or alcohol misuse;

• never be demeaning to any group in society or otherwise violate accepted standards of taste and decency;

• be in full compliance with the prevailing laws, regulations and self-regulatory codes.

The advertising specialist can influence the content and spirit of promotional actions. Given the complexity and structure of the alcoholic beverages industry and the diversity of retail outlets, restaurants, bars and tourism businesses in the country, the manufacturer whose product is part of a promotional activity may not always be involved or may even be unaware of the promotional activity taking place concerning its brands. This affects the degree of control exercised. In this situation, the operator and/or the owner of the place where the promotion takes place are important for the implementation of promotional activities.

It is in the interest of society as a whole, and the industry, that Beverages are promoted with a sense of responsibility. The NCSR will work with the Association of Producers, Importers and Traders of Spirits (APITS) to ensure these Guidelines are fully understood and shared widely across sectors such as:

• retail

• hotels / restaurants / cafes / bars / nightclubs / discotheques, for brevity referred to herein as “HORECA”

• tourism boards

• HORECA educational organisations and institutions

•  advertising agencies and advertising service providers

• events producers and organizers

Types of promotions

Promotional activities of Beverages can take place broadly in the following types of settings:

• in store (small shops, supermarkets, hypermarkets)

•  in an establishment (licensed establishments)

• third party events

• events at manufacturers’ premises (e.g. product demonstrations)

• events in non-traditional locations (e.g. brand-owner sports event; brand’s music or dance festivals, train stations, on the beach, old industrial sites, spontaneous gatherings/events organized via sms)

• private homes of consumers

As circumstances and settings greatly vary, there is not one rule for everyone. These Guidelines, based on the provisions of the Common Standards, aim to provide practical tips on a number of aspects concerning promotional activities:

• setting

• content

• tone

• approach

• audience (age) profile.

Guidelines for Point-of-Sales promotions

These Guidelines cover both the actual activity and the supporting materials.

Basic Principles

a. There should be no form of discrimination against participation in the Promotion on the basis of race, sexual orientation, religion, political affiliation,etc.

b. Avoid images, messages or activities which are likely to be considered gratuitously offensive or demeaning.

c. Ensure that the price for the Beverage(s) is known to all consumers.

d. Ensure that the alcoholic nature / alcohol content of the promoted Beverage(s) is known to consumers when the promotional activity is being started.



a. Never encourage irresponsible and excessive consumption of Beverages;

b. Do not use any “drinking games” that may encourage excessive or irresponsible consumption, such as activities which involve either “speed incentives” or drinking an excessive amount of Beverages within a short period of time;

c. Do not serve consumers who are or appear to be uncontrollably irritable, drunk, aggressive or engage in anti-social behaviour. Ensure your staff is fully briefed on how to manage consumers who appear drunk, aggressive or anti-social;

d. Do not exercise any pressure on people not willing to participate;

e. Do not act negatively towards people who are not interested in the promotion;

f. It is good practice to display a clearly visible and appropriate responsible drinking message;

g. Ensure none of the aspects of the activity encourages excessive or irresponsible consumption (content, language, behaviour of promotional teams, price/timing etc);

h. If a promotion or incentive includes a multiple purchases, consumers are not encouraged to drink more than the nationally recommended safe level of alcohol consumption;

i. Promotional activities and messages should never encourage consumers to engage in risky or potentially dangerous activities or behaviour.


a. Never engage in promotional activities inviting people under the minimum age allowed by law to purchase alcohol to participate;

b. Do not allow people below the legal drinking age to participate in the promotions;

c. Do not carry out the promotion at all if it is reasonably expected that more than 30% of the public will consist of people under the legal drinking age. In case of doubt, do not go ahead with the activity;

d. Consider using displays to inform consumers that Beverages should only be consumed by people over the legal purchase age (please see also point f undersection Misuse).

e. In case of doubt as to the age of an entrant, the Promoter must ask for proof of identity;

f. Ensure that none of the aspects of the activity primarily appeal to people under the legal drinking age (content, language, cartoons, music, celebrities, etc).

g. Alcohol brands should not be displayed on children’s/adolescent size clothing.

Drinking and Driving

a. Particular care should be taken to avoid the participation of consumers who may drive after participating in a promotion, e.g., at a supermarket tasting;

b. Consider displaying a “don’t drink and drive” message;

c. Be careful with promotions in venues closely linked with driving (e.g. highway stores/restaurants);

d. While motor vehicles can be used as a reward , great care must be taken at the award ceremony to ensure the vehicle cannot be driven by anyone who has consumed alcohol (e.g. car keys can be handed over the day after the award ceremony).

Hazardous Activities, Workplace & Recreation

Ensure that the promotion does not include or encourage a hazardous activity.

Health Aspects

Ensure that no aspects of the activity imply that the Beverage has any properties of preventing, treating or curing a human disease.


Marketing Communication should not show pregnant women drinking or specifically aim at women who are pregnant.

Alcohol Content

a. Ensure that participants in the promotion know that alcohol is involved;

b. Do not use drink-delivery methods / gimmicks which might confuse or mislead the consumer as to the amount of alcohol they are consuming (e.g. alcohol sprays, vaporisers).


Do not encourage or promote drinking prior to participation in a sporting activity.

Social Success

Marketing Communication should not suggest that the consumption of Beverages is a requirement for social acceptance or success.

Sexual Success

a. Under no circumstances should Marketing Communication be unethical, offend against generally prevailing standards of taste and decency or otherwise impugn human dignity and integrity;

b. Marketing Communication should not suggest that the consumption of Beverages enhances sexual capabilities, attractiveness or leads to sexual relations.


a. No sampling of Beverages should be offered to minors; tasting is permissible in private establishments, or those registered for the sale of liquor, trade shows or other places where the law permits;

b. The clauses of the Common Standards and the Promotion Guidelines also apply to tasting, i.e. the consumer must be informed of what they are about to taste; the alcohol concentration must be stated; and no drunk person should be allowed to taste; promotions should not be held where people are potentially involved in risky and dangerous activity or where they are likely to engage in anti-social behaviour;

c. When tasting, one of the most important elements is the promotional teams must adhere to the rules. For this, training must be provided to them before they take part in the promotion.

Prohibited Promotional items

a. Promotional beverage serving containers, gadgets, sprays, or other beverage dispensing devices that: encourage excessive drinking and/or make it impossible for consumers to easily tell how much alcohol they are consuming (e.g., water guns) and/or deprive consumers of control over the amount of alcohol they consume or the speed at which they consume it (free pour type, ‘dentist chairs’).

b.  Alcohol serving containers, devices or mechanisms for medical or pharmaceutical purposes used for dispensing beverages, e.g. syringes, tubes;

c.  Promotions that include religious or other symbols and references that would affect someone/something in the context of the promotion of the Beverages;

d. Candy or children’s sweets: confectionery/treats that are mainly associated with consumption by persons under the age of majority; adult confectionery, liqueur candy, dark chocolate are eligible. If in doubt, sales data should be reviewed to ensure adult audience; 

e. Giving away prizes and games mainly attracting underage persons; 

f. Drinking games and/or games that encourage irresponsible;

g. Seduction games with sexual content or subtext; 

h. Inflatable items e.g. belts, mattresses, airbeds/pillows, chairs, etc. that are likely to be used in water should not be attractive to minors;

i. Clothes sized for or relating to persons under the age of majority;

j. Sex toys’

k. Branded Beverage condoms

l. Hangover cures

Annex 2 


These Guidelines for Marketing Communication over the Internet are an integral part of the General Standards for Marketing Communication of Beverages. They apply in addition to the General Standards and should be read in conjunction with them.


a. Advertising and marketing communication on Internet sites and/or web pages controlled by alcohol brands that involve direct interactions with an end user must require proof of age by providing complete date and year of birth, and location-state information, prior to allowing the user into that communication, to ensure that the person in question is over the legal drinking age and originates from a state that does not prohibit the advertising of Beverages. If the user enters information that indicates that the individual is under the legal drinking age and of an unacceptable location, access to the relevant digital content must be denied and the individual must be forwarded an appropriate message and/or referred directly to a responsible consumption website such as:

b. Digital and mobile marketing communication that direct the user to download and/or view content from another user must contain a warning that the communication is not intended for persons under 18.

c. Digital content that may be self-generated by users of an Internet address or web page operated by a trademark for Beverages must be regularly monitored and verified by the trademark owner.

d. The Digital Communication Guidelines do not apply to websites or parts of websites containing, for example, corporate, financial, investment or other information that does not promote a brand or product.

e. The digital and mobile marketing guidelines also apply to other marketing communication over the internet, including:

  • Email marketing,
  • Banner Ads,
  • Interactive advertising,
  • Marketing through search engines and blogs,
  • Social networks/communities,
  • Sponsorship, and
  • Posting content on third party websites and other types of paid or unpaid marketing and publishing content on the Internet.


Banner Ad” – a graphic image or other multimedia object used as an advertisement on a third-party website; may be used as a pop-up or windowed advertisement;

Blogs“- websites where the information entered is usually displayed in reverse chronological order. Many blogs offer commentary or news on a particular topic, while others function as more personal diaries posted online. A typical blog combines text, images, and electronic links to other blogs, webpages, and other media related to the topic. The ability for readers to post comments in an interactive format is an important part of most blogs.

Download Warning Message” – a message that warns a visitor to an Internet site wishing to download content that the content is intended/available only to adults over the age of 18 and that, once downloaded, the content must not be forwarded or otherwise made available to minors.

Downloadable Content” – Content that features brands, brand text or brand logos that are offered for download. “Downloadable File” means any file downloaded or made available for download;

‘Download’ means the receipt of data from a remote or central system, such as a web server, FTP server, e-mail server or similar systems.

Email marketing“- a type of direct marketing that uses email as a means of sending marketing messages to a given audience. In a broader sense, any e-mail sent to a potential or actual retail customer can be considered e-mail marketing.

Advertiser Websites” means websites or webpages owned by advertisers for their brands or products that do not include websites or portions of websites containing, for example, corporate, financial, investment or other information that does not promote a brand or product.

Search engine marketing (SEM)” – a type of internet marketing that aims to promote websites by increasing their visibility in search engine results pages; this includes search engine optimization (or SEO), paid posts or paid inclusion. Other sources define SEM as the practice of purchasing paid placement in search engine listings.

“(Sources of) aggregated data“-sources from which an advertiser can obtain information about the audience of a television or radio station, network, Internet site, or publication; usually this data is certified by an independent authority, or the advertiser has commissioned an independent research firm (e.g., Nielsen/NetRatings) to collect this data.

Annex 3


The Privacy Standards govern the collection of personal information from users over the age of 18 and cover every manifestation of direct digital and mobile marketing, whether on social media, a website, or any other digital channel.

The standards are subject to the following conditions:

a. Before collecting any information, the owner of the Beverage Brand site/page must require the individual to confirm that he or she is 18 years of age or older because user information may only be collected from individuals who are of legal age.

b. The site/page owner must use a mechanism to authorize the person to receive or not receive/stop receiving marketing communication about Beverages.

c. the website owner must provide clear and unambiguous information about the collection and use of the personal data acquired.

d. Personal data obtained through digital or mobile marketing of Beverages Not Drinks must not be assigned, traded, or rented to third parties without the knowledge and permission of the owner.

e. Users’ personal data (email address) may be used for the purpose of managing and responding to the request. The personal data should not be published on the respective websites. They may be used (name and e-mail address) to send new information.