DISCUS Issues Guidelines for Alcoholic Beverage Social Marketing


ADOTAS – Ah man — I think the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS) is gonna crack down on me targeting teenagers with Facebook ads for my homemade moonshine (“Dunaway Stills: if ya can still see, ya ain’t drank enough”). Don’t they understand I provide a valuable service to the underage community?

DISCUS, a trade association representing producers and distributors of distilled spirits in the United States, has updated the 76-year old “Code of Responsible Practices for Beverage Alcohol Advertising and Marketing” to recognize the growth of social media marketing. In conjunction with the European Forum for Responsible Drinking, DISCUS has released new guidelines related to social marketing that require:

  • “Age-gating” — that is, confirming a user’s years on this earth — before beginning a direct dialogue between advertisers and consumers;
  • Privacy policies that ensure protections regarding data collection and use of personal information;
  • Regular monitoring of brand pages and sites and removal of inappropriate user-generated content;
  • Clearly identifying brand marketing as such in digital marketing communications and product promotions such as blogs; and
  • Visible instructions urging individuals to forward downloadable digital content only to adults over the age of 21.

“Social media has become an increasingly important marketing channel to reach adult consumers of legal purchase age,” said DISCUS president Peter Cressy. “These new digital guidelines reflect our companies’ strong commitment to extend their responsible marketing practices to these emerging media platforms.”

According to Nielsen data from August 2011, 82% of Facebook users are 21 or older, while 87% of tweeters and 81% of YouTube’s audience are above the U.S. legal drinking age.



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