US trade body The Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) has issued new guidance to promote the “responsible advertising” of alcohol crossover products.

The guidance advises companies to clearly demarcate, via packaging and placement, alcohol crossover products from non-alcoholic drinks. Brands should also “prominently” display the type of alcohol used in crossover, as well as clearly marking its alcohol by volume percentage.

The move comes amid a growing market of ready-to-drink alcohol beverages that seek to play on the brand equity of established soft drinks. Soft drinks brand owners The Coca-Cola Co, PepsiCo, and Monster Beverage Corp are all beginning to experiment in alcohol to varying degrees.

In its set of guidance, DISCUS also makes recommendations for retailers and suppliers, stating that product placement in stores can have an impact on how a consumer perceives whether or not a product contains alcohol.

“While spirits suppliers have the responsibility and control over how these products are advertised and marketed, our retail tier partners have the responsibility and control over how products are presented to consumers for sale,” said Courtney Armour, DISCUS chief legal office and code review board liaison.

“To avoid any consumer confusion, we encourage retailers to train their employees on these crossover products and take measures to ensure they are merchandised in a manner that makes it clear that they contain alcohol and are only marketed and sold to legal drinking age adults.”

In October, the National Beer Wholesalers Association openly discussed the marketing of PepsiCo’s Hard Mtn Dew as an example of a brand its members believed was appealing to consumers of below the legal drinking age.

In response, PepsiCo’s distribution arm, Blue Cloud Distribution, said it gives specific guidance that alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages should not be merchandised or advertised together.

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