The Portman Group, the UK drinks industry self regulatory body, has issued guidance to help alcohol producers avoid inadvertently targeting underage consumers through digital marketing.
 
'The Responsible Marketing of Alcoholic Drinks in Digital Media', published today (26 October), advises companies on how to stay within the codes laid down by Portman Group and the Advertising Standards Authority.
 
The guidelines cover the importance of age verification pages and nanny tags; the boundaries of acceptability surrounding consumer-generated content on brand websites; and how companies can assess the appropriateness of websites and social media. 

For example, The Portman Group states that companies should only be tweeting to followers who've confirmed that they are 18 or over. 
 
David Poley, Portman Group chief executive, said: "Digital marketing is challenging because it can prove difficult to identify who is using digital media and how old they are. Even so, producers must meet the same high standards digitally as in other areas of marketing. Our advice will enable companies to steer a socially responsible route."
 
A Digital Marketing Working Group, including leading industry marketers from Bacardi-Martini, Beverage Brands, Molson Coors (UK) and Diageo, were involved in compiling the advice, the industry body said.
 
Poley added: "This is a fast moving area with every invention presenting new opportunities and fresh dilemmas for marketers. We expect this advice to be applied to all existing and emerging digital marketing. The Digital Marketing Working Group will regularly review the advice to keep it relevant and socially responsible."

Last month, The Portman Group launched a campaign to promote its responsible advertising code. It focused on the rule that actors have to be, and look, 25 years of age to be shown drinking as part of any alcohol marketing campaign in the UK.

Portman's code sets minimum mandatory standards for all alcohol naming, packaging, brand websites, sponsorships and sampling.