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Agencies sign ‘world-first’ standards to prevent alcohol marketing by influencers reaching kids

Major advertising agencies have joined forces with global drinks brands to abide by new standards aimed at stopping children from seeing alcoholic advertising by influencers.

The voluntary standards, signed by agencies including McCann, Publicis, Havas and Dentsu, were drawn up by the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), which represents major global alcohol producers and described the initiative as a “world-first”.

A total of 13 advertising, public relations and influencer agencies have agreed to stick to the rules, which include using platforms with technology to check a person’s age – or alternatively using influencers who are at least 25 years old and who “primarily appeal to adult audiences”.

The pledge includes a commitment to carry out due diligence and “ensure influencers have no reputational association with harmful drinking”.

The standards also require signatories to monitor posts by influencers for compliance – with any issues not addressed by the influencer within 72 hours meaning the agency will “reassess our relationship with them”.

More widely, agencies signing up to the standards also agree to promote responsible drinking, abide by local laws and advertise in an appropriate way – including not making health claims or linking the product to social and sexual prowess, or positioning abstinence negatively.

Albert Baladi, president and chief executive of spirits company Beam Suntory and chair of IARD CEO Group, said the new partnership with agencies “directly address[es] some of the biggest concerns facing the marketing community right now”.

He added: “By offering more transparency and giving those at the heart of content creation the correct tools to safeguard their content, we are able to expand on the significant progress and marketing codes of practice already in place to ensure that these posts do not reach minors or encourage any kind of irresponsible consumption.”

Henry Ashworth, IARD president and CEO, added: “This is a world-first initiative in raising collective standards of responsibility across multiple digital channels, and we call on our partners in the alcohol, advertising and influencer industries to join us in our ongoing work to ensure that alcohol marketing across all forms of media is responsible.”

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