The Portman Group has drawn up the first UK-wide code governing alcohol sponsorships of sports, music, arts and events.
The code, which is binding for drinks producers, means they must promote responsible drinking in their sponsorships.
Anyone flouting the code risks sanctions that could mean significant damage to their reputation, both through negative publicity and the cost of having to renegotiate or withdraw a sponsorship agreement.
The announcement came in the wake of repeated calls by organisations including Alcohol Concern to ban alcohol sponsorships of sport and music events.
It is hoped the code will secure the future of alcohol sponsorship of such events – a significant part of their funding.
The code has been endorsed by sports, arts and venue organisations including cricket, rugby and tennis bodies and the Association of Independent Festivals.
Many brand sponsorships have already committed to promoting responsible drinking.
Diageo’s Guinness Drink IQ programme teaches rugby players about the short and long-term effects of excessive drinking; Pernod Ricard’s Jacob’s Creek sponsorship of Wimbledon will feature responsible drinking messages on promotional materials and SHS Drinks will use advertising space at Scotland’s Rockness Festival to encourage responsible drinking.
Portman Group chief executive Henry Ashworth said: “This is another important gear change in partnership working to promote responsible drinking.
“I am pleased that the new code has been endorsed by the UK’s leading sports and music bodies. Alcohol companies will have a binding commitment to promote responsible drinking – this represents an intelligent evolution of a highly respected code and shows that we are constantly raising the bar when it comes to responsible alcohol marketing.”
Public health minister Jane Ellison MP said: “It’s important that all in industry, from alcohol producers to sports and cultural venues, do all they can to promote responsible drinking. I am pleased to see strong support for the new Alcohol Sponsorship Code from industry, sport and music bodies. The code will help to make sure that alcohol is not promoted to anyone aged under 18.”
Donald Henderson, chair of the Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partnership, said: “We support the Portman Group code for alcohol sponsorship which builds on the work of the Scottish Government Alcohol Industry Partners’ widely respected Alcohol Guidelines for Scotland. This code places a binding commitment on drinks producers to promote responsible drinking at events and through their sponsorship programmes and we welcome this further strengthening of the self-regulatory framework for alcohol sponsorship.”
Gerry Sutcliffe MP, chair of the All Party Parliamentary Sport Group, was among sporting representatives who welcomed the code.
He said: “Alcohol sponsorship provides significant investment for major sporting events across the UK, and this new code is to be welcomed as an important step to further promote responsible drinking at those occasions.
“Having a drink while watching your favourite team is a visible and enjoyable part of this country’s culture and the more the drinks industry and major sports bodies can do in partnership to ensure that drink is enjoyed responsibly, the better.”