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Responsible Drinks Promotions – Compliance with the ASA ‘CAP Code’ & Mandatory Licensing Conditions

Things to consider when thinking of running a drinks promotion to ensure it is compliant with the ASA ‘CAP Code’ and the Mandatory Licensing Conditions

“Considering a drinks promotion? Here are a few things you should consider before doing so in order to stay compliant with the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ‘CAP Code’ and the ‘Mandatory Licensing Conditions’.

The ASA has recently made a ruling against a pub company who advertised a drinks promotion for a ‘Barrow of Booze’ at Christmas. A complaint was made to the ASA which was upheld.

The Advert contained the promotion which was advertised as “£20.00 per person – (Min 15 people) Includes: – 2 boxes of wine, 3ltr (White, Red or Rose) – 20 bottles of Corona or Peroni – Bottle of Tanqueray Gin – Bottle of Ketel One Vodka – Bottle of Tequila – Mixers”.

The ASA ‘CAP Code’ requires communications to be socially responsible and contain nothing that is likely to lead people to adopt a style of drinking that is unwise, including encouraging excessive drinking. On this occasion the ASA noted that the offer was available for consumption for a group of 15 people, which worked out as approximately 12 units per person.

The ASA noted that the Office of National Statistics (ONS) defined binge drinking as having over 8 units in a single session for men and 6 units in a single session for women. The UK Chief Medical Officers’ (CMO) have provided governmental advice, and recommended that is was safest for men and women no to drink regularly more than 14 units per week and it was best to spread this evenly over three days or more.

Furthermore, the ASA considered that readers would understand that the drinks listed consisted of a large amount of alcohol even for a group of 15 people. They also considered that the name of the promotion ‘Barrow of Booze’ also emphasised this impression. The offer did not specify that it was intended to be served along with a meal.

This decision highlights the needs for operators to advertise drinks promotions responsibly, and therefore operators should consider whether the actual promotion itself is a responsible promotion.

Operators are restricted by the ‘Mandatory Licensing Conditions’ which includes a condition (applicable to every premises licence) that prohibits irresponsible promotions. Operators need to consider whether the intended promotion would give rise to a significant risk of undermining the four licensing objectives.

Operators should take into account factors such as how big is the discount, how long is the promotion on for, will the promotion significantly increase numbers of customers, the profile of the customer base, will it encourage more alcohol being consumed in a shorter time, the units of alcohol per customer and the ABV of alcohol in the promotion, etc. It is a subjective test that should always be considered with caution.

Enforcement here could be a two pronged approach, both from the ASA, upholding a complaint in relation to the advert, and from the local authority, for a potential breach of condition of the premises licence.

For further information on this or any other legal related issues contact Associate Hannah Price 0115 953 8500.

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