The NZ Advertising Standards Authority
The Advertising Standards Authority, or ASA, is a voluntary group comprising advertisers, communication agencies, and media organisations in New Zealand.
The ASA Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol
The ASA has developed the Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol which provides the standards by which all alcohol advertisements in New Zealand should comply. The ASA is moving to a new code known as the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code. The new Code will apply to new alcohol advertisements from April 2021 and to all alcohol advertisements from July 2021.
The Code is mostly concerned with the content of marketing, aiming to ensure that advertising is “responsible” and protects children and young people to some degree.
The Code applies to the advertising and promotion for alcoholic drinks to be broadcasted / published in New Zealand and includes all products with an alcohol strength above 1.15% by volume. For the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code, consumable products less than 1.15% alcohol by volume will be considered as 'alcohol' if marketed as "a non-alcoholic variant or brand extension that resembles, e.g. in look and/or taste, a product that contains 1.15% or more ethanol by volume".
The Codes were designed to ensure that alcohol advertising and promotions are consistent with the need for social responsibility and moderation, does not appeal to minors and is truthful in presentation.
There are four principles in the ASA Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol, and three principles in the Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code.
The principles, guidelines, and rules cover all kinds of advertisements including material advertisers share on social media, and the content users generate in response to prompts from advertisers.
No alcohol ads on TV between 6:00am and 8:30pm
The ASA Codes also limit the amount of exposure of alcohol advertising on television. The Code requires that no alcohol advertisements are permitted to be broadcast between 6:00am and 8:30pm. No such limits are required in other media (e.g. radio, internet) and the time restrictions do not apply to sponsorship advertisements.
There are other limits on exposure in the Code. For example, alcohol promotions and sponsorship must not give the impression of dominating the viewing or listening period. In addition, television alcohol advertising must not exceed six minutes per hour, and there must be no more than two advertisements for alcohol in a single commercial break.
The Code (Principle 4) addresses the standards for alcohol sponsorship. For example, the sponsorship should not be undertaken for events where minors (<18 years) are likely to comprise more than 25% of the participants, or spectators.
The Alcohol Advertising and Promotion Code (in full effect from July 2021) addresses Alcohol Sponsorship in Principle 3. To ensure Alcohol Sponsorship Advertising and Promotion targets Adults, Alcohol Advertisers should not engage in Sponsorship Agreements unless Adults are at least 80% or more of the estimated participants or spectators.
If any person believes that an advertisement or sponsorship is in breach of the Code, a complaint can be made to the ASA.
Complaints regarding breaches to the Code
The ASA deals with all complaints.
There is no independent or Government body which takes complaints relating to the Code. This means that New Zealand has a system of self-regulation – the ASA develops the Code and makes the decisions relating to complaints.
Limited penalties if advertisement is found to breach the Code
If an advertisement or sponsorship is found to breach the Code, the only penalty is that the advertisement must be removed.
This means that an advertisement may have been running for many months before a complaint is laid and a decision on any breach is made. The impact of the advertisement or promotion is largely done by then.
There are no criminal or financial penalties unless, in some cases, the broadcaster does not comply with the requirements.
This type of self-regulation of alcohol advertising has been consistently shown in research to be insufficient to reduce the harmful exposure to alcohol advertising.