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Drinks ads on the rocks? Scottish Government considers ban on alcohol adverts

Proposed restrictions on alcohol ads under consideration by the Scottish government have been criticised by the advertising industry. A number of leading advertising organisations and media companies signed a joint letter stating that a potential ban could be “harmful” to both the Scottish economy and the overall ad industry.

Alcohol bottles sitting on shelves 

A recent consultation by the Scottish government looked into ways to reduce alcohol-related harm, and considered whether restrictions should be imposed on marketing and advertising. The consultation was led by MSP Maree Todd, who said: “Young people in Scotland, and people in recovery and their families, have told us directly that they see a lot of alcohol marketing and want us to take action to restrict this. This consultation sets out a range of potential proposals to reduce and restrict alcohol marketing…”

One of the suggestions considered during the consultation was a total ban on all advertising of alcohol in Scotland, though no final decision has been made at the moment. 

In response, a public letter has criticised the idea and suggested that instead there should be a “fundamental re-think” of general alcohol policy without penalising the advertisers.

Groups including the Advertising Association, the British Promotional Merchandise Association, the Cinema Advertising Association, Outsmart and the ISBA signed the letter. 

The letter said:

“While we understand the government’s desire to reduce alcohol consumption harms in Scotland, there is no evidence that advertising bans will achieve that aim.

The proposals set out by the Scottish government will fail to address the problem. Such measures will be harmful to the Scottish economy – including local communities – to Scotland’s advertising and creative industries, and to the Scottish media including publishers, broadcasters and cinemas, as well as the outdoor advertising sector.

At the end of the day, we are talking about an impact on Scottish businesses, Scottish jobs and Scottish communities for no discernible benefit.”

The ASA has an extensive and clear list of rules that apply to alcohol TV ads, to which all companies must adhere.

What are your thoughts on the ban – should alcohol companies be subject to advertising restrictions? Let us know in the comments below.

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