The UK’s strict rules on alcohol advertising are the product of collaborative working between ISBA members, regulators and interest groups.

Alcoholic beverages are among the UK’s most popular and successful brands. Advertising these brands is important to the UK’s economy but it is also important that the rules are both responsible and effective. The ISBA Alcohol Advertising Group is our forum for ensuring that advertising codes and marketing practices are workable while reflecting the needs of society and the social responsibility policies of our members.

How we work

The UK’s advertising self-regulation system is based on codes owned by the industry (through CAP & BCAP) that both implement the law and establish industry agreed standards above the law. ISBA is the advertiser’s representative on both code owning bodies for broadcast and non broadcast. When revisions are called for it is ISBA’s Alcohol Advertising Group that leads the process.

The Portman Group

We work alongside The Portman Group, the industry self-regulatory group covering wider marketing issues, and the Drinkaware Trust, the industry funded but independent social messaging body. Drinkaware promotes responsible drinking within the Government’s recommended guidelines and finds innovative ways to challenge the national drinking culture through its campaign, digital, media and grants activities. We also work closely with the industry trade bodies, including the British Beer and Pub Association, the Wine and Spirit Trade Association and the Scotch Whisky Association.

Our work in the EU and beyond

In the EU we work alongside the sectoral alcohol groups and the World Federation of Advertisers in guiding public policy towards effective ways of achieving common social policy objectives within the complex cultural mix of 29 different countries and varying cultural approaches to the use and abuse of alcohol. The spirits industry in the EU promotes resposnisble marketing and practical guideance on advertising standards for creative and advertising agencies


ISBA members led the process of working with governments in tackling the vexed issues of alcohol misuse. Advertising has a significant role to play alongside other factors and groups. ISBA signed up to the Department of Health’s responsibility deal. Some interest groups have called for total advertising bans. ISBA and the Advertising Association have been at the forefront in demonstrating that bans would be very unlikely to achieve the campaigners' goals of reducing consumption and misuse. These bans would also have the unintended consequence of undermining free-to-air TV in the UK that is paid for almost entirely through advertising revenue. Similarly many events, popular with UK citizens, would be badly affected by moves to prohibit sponsorship by alcohol brands.

What's new? 

New advice on weekly units should not be seen in isolation from the Public Health agenda to de normalise alcohol. Marketing restrictions are already strict in the UK and the industry led self-regulation of marketing is widely acclaimed. Advertising and marketing will remain in the firing line alongside our diets, presenting a target for ad restrictions.